|Sir George and Richard Benyon chair meeting on ProLogis, Greenham Park
11 Apr 2006
The two MP's for North West Hants and Newbury met at New Greenham Park to discuss how best to resist the proposed construction of a major storage depot on the site.
"This proposed development is in Richard Benyon's constituency, but its impact - if it goes ahead - will be mainly felt in mine. This is because the principal feeder road - the A339 - is mainly in North West Hampshire, as is Newtown Straight (B4046). Both these roads will have to carry considerable extra traffic and this is causing understandable concern."
"In addition to concerns about traffic, there are understandable concerns about the environmental impact of the scheme, which will be seen from miles around. If the depot is to operate 24/7, this would change the character of the area, as no local employer is currently trading all round the clock."
"At the meeting, County Councillor John Maxwell said he would see where Hampshire County Council had got to with its assessment of the impact of the scheme on the A339 - which is now a county road. They have asked for more information and I am sure West Berkshire will want to reflect very carefully on whatever Hampshire County Council have to say. Research had been carried out into other depots run by Prologis - all of which were closer to dual-carriage way roads and Motorways."
"At the meeting were representatives of Greenham, Newtown, Burghclere, Kingsclere and Ashford Hill with Headley Parish Councils - all of whom oppose the current proposals. Also at the meeting was Cllr Swift-Hook - Councillor for Greenham Ward and a member of the Planning Committee - who was scrupulous in saying nothing that might preclude him from taking part in the decision-making process, but shed some light on how the application was being processed."
Two Basingstoke and Deane Councillors were present - Andy Hewitt and Alan Denness - who explained the concerns of the neighbouring district council and the work of the Cross Border Group, set up to look at strategic cross-border issues.
"There was a strong view that this application should be looked at in a broad context - the growing pressure on the A339, which cannot easily be widened, even if that was thought desirable; the impact of consents either granted or likely to be granted, which will increase traffic on the A339; and what is likely to happen on the rest of the site."
Also at the meeting were local residents - one of whom had had a modest extension to her home turned down because it would change the character of the area, who was understandably perplexed that officers at West Berkshire were considering approving the ProLogis scheme of 63,000 square meters.
There was support for the building being lowered by digging down into the ground, and for environmental measures to screen it as far as possible.
After the meeting, Sir George said that a lot more work needed to be carried out into the traffic projections from the development. He also felt that it would be appropriate to review the plan for New Greenham Park before considering the ProLogis applications.
"Much has happened since the original plan was introduced. Does it really make sense to base such a giant distribution depot so far from a motorway? Might it not make sense to consider housing for some of the site? Whatever happens, the capacity of the feeder roads must be a major consideration."