EMOTIONS ran high at a council meeting to decide an application to change a redundant garden centre into a storage facility.

The borough council’s development control committee met virtually to decide an application submitted by Greenham Trust to change the former Cottismore Garden Centre, on Newbury Road, Kingsclere, into secure storage for hire, using up to 195 mobile shipping containers, with 2.4-metre-high gated access and 1.8m high security fencing.

The application stated that the redevelopment of the garden centre, which closed in August 2017, would “bring back an employment use to the site which is not of itself of high environmental value”.

A neighbour of the site spoke in objection to the proposals, raising concerns about the access road, which she described as a “dirt track with only two passing places”.

The neighbour also questioned whether the redevelopment would provide employment opportunities for the local area, pointing out that the application states one person would be employed part-time.

She added: “They want to dump ugly containers at the bottom of our garden…It will have a massive impact on all of our homes. Not to mention the undesirable attention.”

The objector asked councillors: “Would any of you like a two and a half metre security fence in your garden?”

She added: “I would ask that you all let your conscience decide on this because it’s our lives…You can hear in my voice how upsetting this is.”

Kingsclere Parish Council also objected to the plans, based on the access road being “poorly maintained” and “unsuitable for use by container lorries”.

It added: “It is proposed for the site to be unmanned and there is concern that this could attract undesirable attention. There are footpaths leading to and around the site which are currently well used but walkers could be put off if the site attracts undesirable attention.”

A representative from the parish council told the committee that the development would be “harmful to the character and appearance of the countryside” adding: “We fail to see how an unmanned site will support the economy.”

Speaking in support of the application, a representative from Greenham Trust told the committee that it would “manage the impact on neighbours” by limiting opening hours to 10 to 20 customer visits each week, adding: “The proposal will secure the long-term future of a local storage business…This is an opportunity to reuse a redundant site.”

Councillors voted to refuse the application, with eight against it and two for.

It was refused on the grounds of the nature and type of vehicles and having no economic benefit.