A new industrial estate is being discussed for the area north of the railway line.

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.”


Map of north Whitchurch area showing areas listed in the Local Plan adopted in 2006. Click for larger version.

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.”


ARH20110327-1623-A55-001956 (resized)

The former Didcot railway used to run through tunnels under the West of England Main Line (the present station is above the tunnel).

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.


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.

Click to read the B&DBC Local Plan that was adopted in 2006 (pdf file format).

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.

Comments (6)

  • Bev and Barry

    Nothing new there, this was first talked about years ago.

  • Ellen Dennett

    Please don’t make Whitchurch into another Andover or Basingstoke. It would totally spoil it. Watch the red kites circling around, the hares in the fields and realise why it mustn’t change. Industry isn’t the answer to everything!!

  • Graham Burgess

    Whatever is done to encourage trade should include truly affordable housing for those who at present need it and any future employees.

    Vehicular access needs to be sufficient for larger vehicles so the tunnel under the railway is not big enough for that.

    Graham Burgess.

  • sue c

    Just appalled. More insensitive behaviour. More wrecking of beautiful countryside and more habitat loss for those with no voice. The field owned by St Cross which is next to the proposed area and which had become a lovely little nature reserve, which many of us appreciated so much, was wrecked today. All the young trees, which were so lovely and contributed so much to the area, were smashed and chopped and the ground scored deeply with vehicle tracks. It was as if a battle had taken place. As inconsiderate a treatment of land as possible. Sickening. Three other people I met also expressed their horror at what was happening this afternoon. We have walked our dogs along the footpaths of that increasingly lovely field and been so grateful for it. In the summer, the wild flowers and grasses were extremely beautiful. What is wrong with these people? No sensitivity or regard for other living beings, human or otherwise. Everything is money and profiting one way or another – well, I for one, feel very disturbed by the threat to my immediately accessible, much loved, beautiful surrounding countryside. Of course, this POV is sentimental nonsense to those who stand to gain.

  • John

    Any expansion north of the railway line worries me. It will start with a car park and then that will be a precedent for the current agricultual fields to be used for massive housing estates. I am surprised our local politicians are supporting this.

  • Keith Watts

    John – it is a bit early to say that “our local politicians are supporting this”. There is not yet a proposal that can be supported or opposed, only an enquiry. Eric Dunlop and I have reflected on our opposition to house building north of the railway and we still believe that it would become an isolated dormitory not part of the community of Whitchurch. The idea that any building there would be a precedent for massive estates is a myth.

    Sue – the field that you are writing about is agricultural land that has been uncultivated for some time. I hope that the clearance of young trees will be followed by the resumption of agricultural cultivation of the field.

    Graham – yes the tunnel access to the site south of the railway would have to be one-way with traffic lights. Network Rail would stay as owners of the tunnel so the road would never be adopted as public highway. I don’t think that industrial estate, planned for 20 years, will ever be built.

    Ellen – as I said above, I was approached by an employer. He provides jobs for local people, including apprentices.

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