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Plan for business units in the countryside rejected despite councillor support



The plan was to build four business units for commercial use with associated parking and landscaping in Orchard Farm in Frog Lane, Little London.

The application was brought to a development control committee of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council on Wednesday, April 10, after planning officers recommended to refuse it, although ward councillor Jo Slimin was in favour of approving it.

Some of the councillors in the committee had visited the site before the meeting to look at the area.

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The officers recommended refusal for two main reasons – its landscape impact and failure to respect and integrate with the character, visual amenity, and scenic quality of the local area.

Although the applicants told the councillors that it has been a brownfield site for many decades, the officers said the land is still classified as an agricultural site.

Caroline Downie, speaking in support of the applicants, told the councillors that the site is ‘evidently not agricultural’.

“It is a brownfield site which has seen its use evolve and change over the years.

“So we ask you this – is the landscape harm so substantial and detrimental when considered against the benefits of local business and employment? In our opinion, the planning balance weighs heavily in favour of overturning the officer’s recommendation.”

Cllr Slimin also spoke before the committee in support of the application.

She said: “I believe this application should be allowed to continue to allow local rural businesses to operate from the site, providing jobs in the rural area, which will not have any greater impact on the surrounding environment that is currently in place and will indeed improve the area.”

However, Cllr Paul Miller said the councillors can only address what is in front of them in the report, which said it is agricultural land.

Cllr Nick Robinson also said he would second Cllr Miller’s comments.

He said: “We are not just talking about staff going in and out, we could see a lot of vans and heavy lorries going in and out. It’s a narrow lane and it’s not suitable for that sort of traffic. Industrial units down single-track roads just do not work. They should be on industrial estates on proper roads that are wide enough to take that sort of vehicle.”

Councillors Ken Rhatigan and Colin Phillimore spoke in support of the application.

“My view is that is not an agricultural site,” said Cllr Rhatigan.

“As a councillor who visited the site, there has been no livestock on that land, no planting of crops, and no agricultural activity, probably since the sawmill was there. The site which is slopes away from the road limits the impact of the new buildings. The landscape impact is very limited.

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“I do not believe it would change the rural and tranquil nature of Frog Lane. I genuinely cannot support the reasons for refusal.”

However, ultimately seven councillor voted in favour of refusing the applications, while two voted against.

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