EAST Hampshire District Council has produced a report for the conversion of employment sites to possible residential use, in a bid to meet the growing need for housing in some rural areas.
The report includes business sites within the parish – giving detailed ratings of each – for councillors to make comments on, before the consultation period expires at the end of March.
The district council report stated: “The employment background paper has been produced to inform and justify a revised approach to managing the development of employment land across East Hampshire, outside of the South Downs National Park.
“This revised approach will involve the removal of permitted development rights for the change of use of buildings from office, light industry or warehousing to residential use, on key employment sites. Evidence is also provided to help the council build on the strategy of its Local Plan to safeguard against the inappropriate loss of employment land to alternative uses”.
The report aims to identify key employment sites that should be protected from inappropriate change of use – and to identify options for a Local Plan policy, to clarify when an employment site is likely to be considered suitable for redevelopment to an alternative use not connected with employment.
EHDC says the background paper also provides clear justification for applying planning conditions to remove permitted development rights from new premises on allocated and windfall sites if redevelopment is approved.
In addition, the district council stated the expiry of East Hampshire’s exemption from the conversion of offices to residential use, together with the need to understand the detailed circumstances when redevelopment would be acceptable, presented the council with an opportunity to pursue a joined-up approach towards managing the impacts of development on the area’s employment sites.
Business sites in the parish which are considered essential for retention include the Beaver Industrial Estate, off Midhurst Road, since it is close to the train station and village centre, as well as Bleach’s Yard Industrial Estate, off Station Road, which has potential for future development and is also close to Liphook station.
Index House, off Midhurst Road is also included since it is close to the village centre and adjoins the conservation area, as is Exchange House in Station Road and Ajax House/Plowden House on Haslemere Road, which borders the conservation area in the centre of Liphook, which is better than other sites, according to the report.
Chiltlee Manor, off Haslemere Road, is considered a poor employment site, since the Manor is a listed building, which may not be flexible enough accommodation for business operations and some trees in the grounds are covered by tree protection orders.
24A Longmoor Road has also been rated as average, due to its narrow site access via roundabouts in the village centre, and because it is surrounded by residential properties and offers limited amount of parking.
The report stated Passfield Enterprise Centre off Lynchborough Road, offered very poor access to the site and had no local public transport. It also had a run-down unattractive appearance with poor quality buildings, showing signs of wear and tear and neglected common areas.
Passfield Mill Business Park, off Lynchborough Road, also received negative comments in the report for its unattractive appearance, showing limited evidence of recent investment.
A housing development application for 48 residential units, a community hall and open space area has already been submitted for the site in 2016, which was refused by EHDC at the time.
Parish councillors objected to both employment sites at Passfield Enterprise Centre and Passfield Mill Business Centre being considered for residential use.
The report stated common characteristics of the key employment sites listed were suitable for identifying what made a site ‘fit for purpose’ to meet the floorspace needs of local businesses.
Such characteristics include good vehicular access, good accessibility to services, facilities and residential areas, flexible and adaptable accommodation for a range of business requirements, attractive and well-maintained buildings and common areas and amenity implications for redevelopment.
As part of the review the Local Plan, the council’s planning bluerpint, EHDC has also called for sites for its Land Availability Assessment.
Possible uses include housing of all types, affordable properties for older people as well as gypsy and traveller accommodation, employment sites, offices, light industrial and warehousing.
The appeal also mentioned a need of sites for retail, supermarkets, shopping centres, retail parks, social infrastructure, schools, health, community facilities, open space, including sustainable alternative natural green spaces (SANGs), sports pitches, playing fields, parks and gardens.
•The call for Land Availability Assessment sites closes on Friday, May 4.