Alton's new retail park plans WILL be debated

The proposed retail park measures 46,575 square feet, roughly equivalent to Alton's Sainsbury's and Iceland stores combined, and is located on a redundant brownfield site neighbouring the Aldi, Pets at Home and Wickes retail park in the Mill Lane estate ()

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AN ALTON councillor has hailed a U-turn by East Hampshire District Council to allow a public debate of plans for a new retail park incorporating Lidl and Home Bargains in Mill Lane, as a victory for common sense.

The Herald reported on May 27 that planning officers – not elected councillors – were poised to determine the application by Sussex-based Hargreaves Group despite strong objections by both Alton Town Council and the Alton Society.

However, EHDC has this week reversed its decision following a concerted campaign by Alton community groups and representatives led by Ashdell councillor Suzie Burns – with a committee date to be confirmed.

Cllr Burns said: “Thank goodness common sense has prevailed! I had expressed concerns to the planning officer and head of regeneration that given the size and key strategic location of the development that the application is of significant public interest. My efforts, combined with pressure from Holybourne Village Association, the Alton Society and, of course, the coverage in the Herald seem to have provided the best way forward.

“It is absolutely right that EHDC have taken the decision to let the application be heard by planning councillors. The planning committee will have the opportunity to examine the application in public and make any reasonable planning committee conditions. I am pleased residents will have the opportunity to voice their views.

“The committee will weigh the employment opportunities, impact on the town centre businesses, planned footpath to Holybourne and the CIL contribution – 25 per cent of which will go to Alton Town Council.

“I look forward to the meeting and hearing local residents’ views.”

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