THE future of a Basingstoke retail park is in doubt as the owners admit they are “considering all options” following the departure of various businesses.

A source has told the Gazette that one of the options being considered for the 3.3-hectare Brighton Hill Retail Park, in Winchester Road, is to knock it down and replace it with industrial units, keeping only the McDonald’s restaurant and drive-thru.

It is understood that the owners, LaSalle, have been in talks with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council about the future of the retail park, which has seen various businesses move out in recent years.

Numerous units have been left empty at the retail park, including Toys R Us which closed down in March 2018; Pizza Hut which closed in September last year; and Office Outlet.

As previously reported, Currys/PC World is relocating from Brighton Hill Retail Park to the next-door St Michael’s Retail Park, where two empty units are being merged to accommodate the retailer.

Earlier this month the retail park attracted a group of travellers who set up camp by the former Pizza Hut restaurant, using the empty building as a washing line.

The retail park was built in 1970 as part of the Town Centre Development Plan. Its current retailers include DFS and Carpetright.

Andrew Bolitho, head of out-of-town retail for LaSalle, which owns Brighton Hill Retail Park, did not rule out the possibility of knocking down the site and replacing it with industrial units.

He told the Gazette: “The vacant units are of course a cause for concern and as is the case for many retail properties at this time, several options are being considered for its long-term future.”

He added that this included maintaining its current use as a retail park.

However, Councillor Ron Hussey, Liberal Democrat councillor for Eastrop and Grove, believes keeping the site for retail use “doesn’t seem plausible”.

He added: “The site is looking in need of investment. Providing the investment doesn’t exacerbate the traffic problems on Brighton Hill Roundabout I would welcome to see what plans the owners have.

“It doesn’t seem plausible that they would invest and revamp it as a retail park because they have empty units that have been empty for a long time and others that are deserting the ship, so it does seem there is little chance of it being retained as a retail park.

“I would be interested to know what other options they are considering.”

When the Gazette visited the retail park to take pictures at around 9.15am on Wednesday, the car park was deserted, with fewer than 10 cars parked there. However, there was a steady stream of cars looping round to visit McDonald’s.

The borough council said it is “not aware of any plans for the site” adding: “Unfortunately, the pandemic has had an impact on the retail landscape and changing customer behaviour and businesses continue to make their own decisions on retail space and locations which is something we have little or no influence over.”