Daniel Knight, representing Goodmans - the owner of the Andover Airfield site - attended a meeting of parish councils who would be affected by the scheme if it went ahead.
"This was a constructive meeting, excellently chaired by Katrina Saville, where Daniel Knight listened to the points that were made."
Below is my note of the meeting, which does not purport to be a comprehensive record but highlights some of the main issues.
Note of a Meeting with Daniel Knight, representing Goodman (supported by Mark Fox) and 16 representatives of Parish councils and RoADAC.
The meeting was convened and chaired by Katrina Saville, Chairman of Monxton Parish Council and held in Penton Village Hall.
DK began by saying he envisaged a subsequent meeting with consultants, if further issues needed pursuing.
He was told there was a groundswell of opinion against the proposal, starting in the villages and moving towards Andover, based on the proposition that a Business Park was scheduled for the site. However, if the current plans were nonetheless to proceed, there would need to be changes.
Road safety issues were addressed first, with DK explaining the new road layout, with an extra bridge and the installation of programmable traffic lights. DK said that Hampshire County Council had not signed off the proposals, but there had been discussions with them on principles and capacity issues. He understood that HCC were acting as agents of the Highways Agency when it came to discussing the impact of the development on the A303 and DK was not aware of any outstanding concerns. The A303 would not be widened, as the advice was that it is used at under 50% capacity The new roundabout had the capacity to cope with planned growth. It was not different in “headline terms” from the existing consent, but there were differences in detail.
The warehouse would not be operational before the roundabout was complete and, subject to consent, work on the roundabout and work on the site would be concurrent. Both should be complete within 18 months of consent, with the roundabout being completed more quickly. Goodmans wanted to make progress. DK did not envisage that the A303 would need to be closed, but some temporary overnight closures would be required.
While the existing consent had less “footprint”, it would generate more traffic overall than what was now proposed; there would however be a different mix – there would be more HGV’s. DK was asked for detailed figures to substantiate this, and for figures of destination and origin of the traffic with likely routes. DK said that, apart from local deliveries, traffic would use the A303. HGV’s would be tracked to prevent the use of unsuitable routes.
DK would think about a legal limit on vehicle movements on the site. There would be parking on site for 160 HGV’s to avoid the use of nearby roads by vehicles arriving early. There would be audible warning sounds as vehicles reversed into the bays. The vehicles used would be typically up to 40 tonnes.
DK said that a Vehicle Identification System would be used by employers on the site to stop employees using the Monxton Road to gain access. This would be enforced by cameras, and Goodmans could require their tenants to operate such a system, which had been adopted in Corby. DK said he would try to get examples of the system working in practice.
Goodmans would be contributing £400,000 towards improved bus services along the Monxton road and linking the site to the Town Centre. This could fund real time information systems and the details were still being discussed with the relevant authorities.
DK would find out why there appeared to be an access road leading to the undeveloped northern section of the site; and would see if the emergency access road could be moved south on Red Post Lane.
DK explained that the building would be lowered into the ground at the northern end of the site, and raised at the southern end. This was to compensate for the slope in the site. It would be raised 4 metres at the southern end and lowered 4 meters at the northern end. This solution had been adopted as it involved no movement of spoil on to or off the site. The mid point was roughly half way along the building. DK said he would look at the feasibility of lowering the building, but it would involve taking spoil off the site and increasing traffic.
Pressed on the impact of the building, against what was envisaged in Andover Vision, DK said he understood the concern and surprise at what was proposed, and that people might not necessarily have envisaged this facility.
Its design was dictated by its function and he would discuss materials with TVBC. He would see whether the orientation of the building might be altered.
Pressed on the reliability of the predicted noise levels, DK said he would check on the details. DK would resist restrictions on hours of use on site. His view was that the site was well located for this type of facility, being not immediately surrounded by residential areas. There was a noise restriction in the existing consent, but not on hours of use. DK would get more detail as to how the noise would fall within that limit.
Asked whether Phase 2 would follow Phase 1, DK said there was no absolute guarantee of this, but believed there would be a demand for what was envisaged. There were expressions of interest in site, but nothing more definite. The Biomass Plant, which was in Phase 2, was an operational requirement of Tescos.
It would generate a surplus of electricity, but would require large supplies of wood chippings. No local supplier had been identified.
DK would check the calculations for run off of water from the site. There would be a management agreement for the bunding and landscaping of the site. A
mixture of mature and new plants would be looked at. There would be a security fence which might be made of acoustic boarding and he would see if the building could be made “greener”.
The building would be single storey, but 16 ½ to 17 metres tall
Although there were 200 bays planned, it was not envisaged they would all be used all the time. The warehouse would be divided into different sections, storing different products, with different operating profiles.
DK believed that the Vehicle Maintenance Unit would have facilities for refuelling the tankers on site. Doubts were expressed as to whether the site was a desirable location for as hotel, but DK said hotels had been built in similar locations elsewhere
DK recognised there were only 320 people on Job Seekers allowance in Andover but pointed to the 3500 new homes planned for the town. He recognised that the majority of jobs within the main building would be on the warehouse floor.
Goodmans hoped to hold a public display or exhibition; if they did, September would be appropriate, and DK was asked to supply a three dimensional model for this. He was aware of the strong local feeling on the issue. Goodmans were keen to avoid a refusal, and would not ignore the points that had been made at the meeting. However, they believed there was a strong planning case for the application, and Goodmans would have to consider an appeal if there was a refusal. If planning consent was granted, the warehouse would serve and London and the South east. He was however unaware of Tesco precise distribution plans.