A company called Obsidian Strategic wants to build five warehouses on an 80-acre site backing onto the M3 at Lodge Farm in North Warnborough.
The proposal being looked at by Hart District Council has already attracted comments from almost 500 residents, the overwhelming majority of whom oppose the project.
But the applicant states demand for warehousing is at “record high levels” while supply is at “record low levels”, all of which it says points to “strong demand for new warehousing development, nation-wide, in order to keep up with demand and the changing face of retail”.
Its planning application adds: “The site is extremely well-located for a logistics scheme, being close to the strategic highway network which is accessible via Junction 5 of the M3 motorway, only 600m away.”
Obsidian Strategic also proposes an electric car charging facility, with associated amenity area, extending to 465 square metres and having a capacity for 200 vehicles.
It estimates the warehouses, occupying a floorspace of 1.1 million square feet, could create 1,500 jobs locally as well as “training and employment opportunities” in the logistics sector, and adds the number of jobs in Hart has been declining steadily since 2014.
But villagers fear the warehouses will bring a lot more traffic and HGV vehicles to the A287 through the villages of Odiham, North Warnborough and South Warnborough, and possibly the A31 too.
The Basingstoke Canal Society is also concerned the development would be less than 220 yards away from the canal.
It believes that the warehouses will have an “adverse and detrimental impact” on the surrounding vistas that the canal is known for.
Many of the objection comments submitted by local residents refer to Paragraph 110 (d) of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Policy INF3 of the Local Plan and Paragraphs 4.6 to 4.9 of the Neighbourhood Plan, all of which they say demonstrate why these warehouses would not be allowed to be built at Lodge Farm.
Other villagers have referenced the potential damage to rural and agricultural infrastructures that will consequently have an impact on village life and community.
The noise and pollution that will be increased by these warehouses will detract from North Warnborough and Odiham’s natural landscapes, they say.
The wider impact on climate change and sustainability is also a concern for many, with complaints that the proposal goes against the government’s Net Zero Strategy, Hart’s Local Plan and the North Warnborough Neighbourhood Plan for greener living.
Odiham Parish Council’s objection argued that the village’s historical importance would be diminished.
The site proposed for the warehouses is a royal park thought to pre-date the Domesday Book of 1086, and Lodge Farm also includes remnants of a Roman villa and a 14th-century park keeper’s lodge.
But not all residents are against the plans – with some pointing out most village residents will still have deliveries made from companies such as Amazon, and without warehouses like the proposed one, they would not be able to receive their Amazon parcels.
A petition on the government website to ‘Ban development on agricultural land to increase food self-sufficiency’ has almost 15,000 signatures from around the UK.