One of Andover's County Councillors - and a member of the ruling cabinet - has written to TVBC, formally objecting to the planning application.
County Councillor David Kirk
"David Kirk's representations are very important, in the light of the responsibilities that he holds. I have his permission to reproduce his letter below."
This email records my objections and concerns both on account of my Constituents in Andover South and the wider population served by the Andover Secondary Schools, where I and my Officers are responsible for helping to bring about improvements in educational achievement.
I would be happy to encourage any development on the airfield site that brought about a genuine Business Park involving light engineering, professional firms like accountants, solicitors, architects etc, IT services and software development in addition to a small amount of distributive trade activity. Unfortunately the proposals under discussion do not bear any resemblance to a Business Park as most of us recognise the term.
A number of examples of successful developments can be seen in Hampshire and I would particularly draw you attention to Havant where, seven or eight years ago businesses were persuaded to invest in the expectation of raising the aspirations of the young people of the area to achieve more than their parent's generation had. The businesses concerned have gone from strength to strength and the achievements of the secondary school children of the area, who can now see the possibilities open to them if they take their studies seriously, have improved fourfold. The three Leigh Park Wards are amongst the hundred most deprived wards in the Country and yet 69% of the children attending the secondary school that serves the area are getting five or more A* to C passes at GCSE and almost all of them go on to college and many to university! None of the Andover Wards come close to that area in terms of the Index of Multiple Deprivation and yet our young people do not aspire to the heights that their less privileged counterparts in Havant do!
Any development of a "Mega Shed" on that site will ensure that no one else will want to share the complex with the operator. I will acknowledge that the planned depot is unlikely to be working at maximum capacity for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year because no amount of improvement to the road infrastructure could cope with that usage but it will be built with that potential in mind and there will be times when it is operating at maximum capacity. That will involve 200 bays servicing three HGV's per hour, in other words 600 HGV's per hour that will need to be able to access the site at precisely the right moment. The only way this can work, in practice, is if they are lined up ready to drive onto the site. Where are they going to wait? Stretching for miles east and west on the A303 or perhaps on the Weyhill Road into town or into Wiltshire? Or are they just going to create gridlock on the industrial estates of East and West Portway? I experienced at first hand, the other evening, the effect of a few cars demonstrating the inadequacy of the road infrastructure when I went to collect my caravan from Weyhill. How much more inadequate will it be if it is also having to cope with up to 14,400 lorry movements a day, 100,800 a week, 5,241,600 a year!
I would ask Members and Officers to think carefully about the consequences of their potential decisions. My Constituents are concerned about the issues I have referred to in addition to many others that have been expressed. On behalf of the Local Education Authority I have to say we are very concerned that the proposed development of a distribution centre of this size will completely neutralise the building blocks we have been trying to put in place to enhance the education standards achieved by the towns' schools and college.
My final thought, for the moment, I address to the Members of TVBC. Council's Officers are there to give advice to Members, your role is to take the decisions, there is no obligation on yourselves to accept the advice of your Officers, you can make any decision you want to, on behalf of your electorate, providing it is not illegal or in any way "ultra vires".
County Councillor - Andover South
Statutory Lead Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Education
Hampshire County Council