The plans for the redevelopment of the Forest shopping center have been modified, following public concerns regarding the apartments offered under the project.
However, despite the revamped plans, the program once again failed to impress Whitehill City Council, which voted this week to file an objection to the request.
While councilors have declared themselves in favor of the regeneration “in principle”, the associated residential developments were deemed controversial enough to submit a blanket objection in February.
And on Monday, councilors reiterated those concerns and stood up again, this time over “the proposed height of Pinehill Lodge and the lack of parking allocated to residents of the 35 new units.”
Center owner and candidate London-based Orchard Grove Asset Management aims to breathe new life into the center, which has recently seen a number of store closings.
A spokesperson said, “We want to do all we can to support a thriving and prosperous downtown Bordon.
“Our £ 10million investment project in Bordon will help secure the future of Forest Shopping Center and help attract new, well-known stores to the city.
“However, it is essential that any new plan is not only consistent with the local environment, but also sustainable. This is why the proposed apartments must be built, to finance the larger improvements of the shopping center.
“As a result of the feedback we have received from the community, we have made significant changes to one of the proposed apartment buildings, Heathcote Lodge, reducing the number of apartments and reducing its height.
“We are understandably disappointed with City Council’s decision to oppose the plans, but we will continue to work with our neighbors and local councilors to secure the long-term future of the Forestry Center.”
Whitehill City Council is an advisory body when it comes to planning requests, with the final decision in the hands of East Hampshire District Council.
In addition to the work of the center itself, the owner initially requested permission to build a total of 37 new apartments.
These were to take the form of two independent buildings, comprising 16 apartments and eight apartments on Pinehill and Heathcote roads, as well as the conversion of the vacant spaces above business units 1-3 and 9-13 to create 13 additional apartments. .
However, Orchard Grove explained that the number of apartments offered for the Heathcote Lodge litigation has been reduced to six, resulting in the building falling in height from four stories to two and a half stories.
Despite a number of public objections to the project, which mostly revolve around the scale of associated residential development (particularly in terms of height), the supporters, expressing their views on the council’s online planning portal district, far exceed those who are opposed to it.
In total, there are 74 in support and 18 objections on the online site.
Most members of the public filing their support come in the form of solicited signatures collected by the applicant, calling on the district council to grant permission.
But this methodology was criticized by an opponent who wrote to the district council, claiming that the wording of the petition “does nothing to really explain the extent of the major changes”, and lacks “any kind of meaningful detail to allow for anyone to sign their name to ‘support’ to really understand what they are signing up for ”.
“It’s that kind of underhanded tactic that grabs people and generates ‘support’ when in fact if people get the detail they may in fact object,” the comment added.
Changes to the interior of the center will see the creation of new retail units, as well as improvements that aim to make the space “more open and welcoming”.
This will include the removal of the east and west entrance doors and canopies; removal of brick planters; repaint the existing canopy from black to white; provide new signage; remove the polycarbonate roof of the atrium and install new lighting, planters and a “living wall” of plants.
Despite the concerns surrounding the new apartments, the applicant maintains that the fittings are adequate, durable and “essential” as part of the lot with the other works.
Documents produced on behalf of the Applicant explain how the center had become “somewhat dated” in terms of format and “lost tenants and visitors as a result”. But, despite the “constraints” and its “dilapidated appearance”, we feel that there is a bright future for the site, energized by “retained local affection”.
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