A DECISION on plans to redevelop Chineham District Centre has been delayed by councillors.

Members of the Democratic Control committee were not satisfied by the proposal's energy efficiency, as well as parking provision and public transport access to the site.

They were considering plans submitted by Tellon Capital after two years of community engagement, which included the introduction of a budget hotel and increased restaurant provision.

Councillors supported a motion to defer the decision, moved by Cllr Chris Tomblin, so the applicant could come back having rectified the issues that the committee raised.

It will mean a delay of at least two months to the proposal.

Mike Townsend, Planning Manager at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, told councillors that whilst he appreciated the sentiment of the committee's concerns, the borough council's declaration of a climate emergency was not part of planning policy.

Cllr Nick Robinson had expressed his disappointment that officers had not been able to say what the council's Supplementary Planning Documents would have mandated as sufficient parking for the site, after concerns had been raised that when the hotel and offices are accounted for, that there would not be enough parking for users of the shopping centre.

Concerns were also raised about the access between the bus stop and the potential site for a new doctors' surgery, and whether people would be forced to walk across the car park.

Cllr Tomblin said: "I am not getting confidence that we are going to achieve carbon neutrality. We are very conscious of our carbon obligations. We will do what we can to ensure that we can make the centre as efficient as possible."

Meanwhile, Cllr David Potter, who seconded the motion, added his frustration about the planning policy not taking into account the climate emergency: "We're in this difficult indirective at the minute where our local plan is deficient and needs revision and doesn't take head of the crisis that we are all facing.

"If ever anything brings all of that home, it's this period of pandemic and all the lessons that are going to be learnt from that, direct and indirect.

"It just seems to me, and I know that Mike [Townsend] and Ann Greaves [Head of Legal Service at the council] will remind us if it fits with the planning policy there is an obligation of this committee to go with the officers' advice on this.

"If ever there was the opportunity, it is the redesign of a district centre like this one, to say, if we mean what we said about the climate emergency and all that goes with that, then this is an opportunity to say to the developer, this is a good stab that you've made, there are lots of good things about it, there are lots of reasons why Chineham District Centre should be redeveloped in a way that is similar to that, but there are things that could be better for future generations.

"I think there is an obligation for us to stand up and say that at this juncture. I don't want us to run into appeals which we'll be told we'll lose, I don't think there's a need for that. But the proposition that Cllr Tomblin has made, that this matter be deferred, for further detailed discussions and then it be brought back to us in improved form, then I just think that if we don't do it on this sort of thing, I don't know when we will."

Chair of the committee, Cllr Paul Miller requested that the planning application came back to the committee within two months and that the council engaged with the applicant on the project.

Eleven of the twelve members voted for the deferment, with only Cllr Anne Court, vice chair, abstaining.