The area’s MP, Sir George Young has disclosed that discussions are underway at Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council to permit an expansion of Ardglen Industrial Estate north of the railway line.
In a letter to a local resident who had been inquiring about improving facilities near the railway station, Sir George Young wrote,
“the debate about the provision of a car park on the north side of the station has now broadened into a debate about whether the Ardglen Industrial Estate should also be expanded to the other side of the railway.”
AREA OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY
It is unclear how large the proposed industrial development would be. The land north of the railway line is known as Litchfield Downs, which is a part of the North Wessex Downs. It was designated in 1972 as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty [AONB], which affords it some protection.
Andrew Lord, a planning advisor at the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty [AONB] told this website, “If a more suitable site can be found for the proposed industrial use not in the AONB – we would want that option to come forward.”
CAR PARK IN 1991 LOCAL PLAN
The local plans for the Whitchurch area include a proposal for an extension of the existing Ardglen industrial estate between its current location and the south side of the railway line. A proposal for a car park north of the station has been in the local plan since 1991.
Borough Cllr Keith Watts told this website, that the idea of a northern extension,
“came out of a private discussion between me and an employer which I took to B&DBC and via them to the AONB.”
There is already a tunnel under the West of England Main Line which can be used for access to the proposed industrial estate – it was once used by trains travelling on the now decommissioned Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway (DN&SR) line.
LOCAL FIRMS NEED MORE SPACE
Sir George stated that “there are a number of local firms who need more space, who want to stay in Whitchurch, but are constrained by the size of the current estate.”
The land north of Whitchurch is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty known as Litchfield Downs, which is a part of The North Wessex Downs. Further to the north is the popular area Watership Down. The author of the book of that name, Richard Adams, lives in Whitchurch.
The North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) covers 668 square miles (1,730 sq km) in Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. It was designated in 1972 to give protection to one of the most extensive tracts of chalk downland in southern England, which is also among the least affected by development. The purpose of AONBs is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the landscape. Together with National Parks, AONB enjoy the highest level of protection.
The B&DBC Local Plan was adopted in 2006 and included two sites from the previous local plan of 1991:
- 1.0 hectare site known as “D3.20” north of the railway line for a car park; and,
- 4.9 hectare site for industrial extension known as “D3.21” that is south of the railway line.