A MAJOR new non-food retail development covering more than 6,000 square metres on a former quarry and landfill site has been given a green light by district councillors.
It will create the equivalent of around 100 full-time jobs, and one councillor described the project as ‘imaginative and sympathetic’.
But, there were objections from the city council and a number of local residents.
The scheme, planned for land adjoining the Homebase store, in Barnfield Drive, will involve the creation of a new landscaped riverside park, incorporating a stretch of the River Lavant.
Planning officers recommended approval of an outline application, and the district’s southern area development management committee voted 11-1 in favour – subject to completion of a legal agreement.
However, because it was an outline application, a second, detailed plan will have to go before the committee at a later stage.
The city council claimed the development would have an ‘overbearing effect’ on nearby homes.
Objectors expressed concern about its size, worsening traffic congestion, a history of flooding on the site and its nearness to the river.
However, Jeremy Hinds, representing the applicants, Brookhouse Group Ltd, said the scheme was an important step in a wider development, the Environment Agency said it would not increase the risk of flooding elsewhere in the area and highways authorities said it would not result in a significant increase in traffic on the local network.
The plan includes three buildings – two retail units and a café designed to be a visitor attraction for the linear park.
Cllr Michael Woolley said the height of one of the proposed units was completely unacceptable, as it adjoined residential buildings.
Planning officer Jeremy Bushell told the committee the height of the building would be considered at a future meeting when the detailed application was submitted.
Cllr John Ridd expressed serious concerns about highways issues and said a lot more information was needed.
“We have to make sure what is going up at the entrance to the city is the right thing for that location, and to protect people who will be using it as well,” he added.
Cllr Quentin Cox said he accepted the potential for development of the site was important to the district council and the community but it had to be sensitive. He said traffic, transport and access were not adequately covered in reports and wanted to know what effect the total development of the Barnfield area was going to have.
Cllr Tony Dignum, however, said it was an imaginative and sympathetic development. “Rarely do we have a development so exciting, with this river park, grassed areas and a wildlife corridor,” he declared. “This should be welcomed.”
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