"This is the moment for the development committee to seize this opportunity."

These are the words of one of the developers of Chineham District Centre, who is urging Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to grant them planning permission for the scheme that will see the area transformed.

James Burchell, co-founder and partner at Tellon Capital, said that should his company be unsuccessful at obtaining the council's consent after their initial application for the site was deferred last month, they would no longer pursue redevelopment.

Mr Burchelltold The Gazette in an exclusive interview: "This is a great opportunity for us to be able to create a new scheme.

"If we didn’t get our planning [permission] on Wednesday, we would not continue with any development programme within the scheme.

"We have spent nearly two years in the planning process. We’ve had lots of consultation with the county council over the relocation of the bus stop in order for us to facilitate our development. We have still got challenges and a number of retailers who are struggling and finding it challenging.

"If we weren’t able to receive planning consent, we’re not going to invest more time and money in going through an appeal or renegotiation process because we have a number of other schemes.

"This is an important scheme for us, but it’s not so important that we’re going to throw good money after bad and find that we’re just going to find more and more brick walls that’s going to prevent us carrying out an essential and potentially great development in Chineham."

Basingstoke Gazette:

As previously reported in The Gazette, the council's development control committee deferred granting planning permission to the scheme last month, citing concerns over the sustainability of the scheme.

Cllr David Potter said at the previous meeting, on July 1: "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."

Now, Tellon are preparing for their application to go in front of the same committee again tomorrow (Wednesday, August 12), and have urged councillors to agree with the 94 per cent of respondents to their consultation who supported the planning application in its current form.

Amy Jones, head of planning at Tellon, said that all of the concerns that councillors had in the meeting last month had already been taken into consideration, but they were not expecting the discussions to be that detailed.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Talking about the updated application, Ms Jones said: "It is explaining it because it probably wasn’t interrogated in enough detail in the committee meeting, and all the information wasn’t to hand because it wasn’t thought that it was a topic for discussion in that level of detail.

"In all of these points, we’ve considered the climate emergency and how we can make the development sustainable, so it’s setting all these points out so that it’s clearly communicated through additional measures."

And the concerns of sustainability were one of the fundamental visions behind the redevelopment plans, according to Mr Burchell.

He said: "We see it as an example of how district centres can be at the heart of the local community. It can be an entity that can combine the needs of the local community with the consideration of future generations.

"We want to make sure that our legacy has done no harm, and secondly that we have left this in a better place than when we arrived. A better place isn’t just having prettier bricks, more retail or more parking, a better place is an environment where more people want to spend more time."

The proposals will see a large part of the shopping centre transformed - with car parks moved about and new buildings erected. Of the headline additions include more restaurant space, a new hotel and added sustainability measures.

They say that it will include a net 17.7 per cent increase in biodiversity, and a significant increase in cycle spaces. Additionally, they are considering the feasibility of adding solar panels - they only have a small roof area accessible to them - and are linking the woodland to the north east of the site with walks that they say show they have considered the "overall environment".

Basingstoke Gazette:

"We were surprised initially that we received a deferment," Mr Burchell told this newspaper. "Having gone through the detail and understanding post that, we respect the fact that the committee itself feels it has an obligation to make sure that Basingstoke and the environment are going to be developed appropriately and in accordance with that."

The company bought Chineham District Centre in March 2018 and almost immediately set out on a "fact finding mission" to see what the residents of Chineham and users of its district centre wanted it to look like. This resulted in two consultations, the second of which saw high levels of support for their plans, which in turn was submitted to the borough council as a planning application.

And Tellon knew of Basingstoke and Deane's expansion plans before they invested - citing the borough's growth from a population of 180,000 to 250,000 over the next decades as "motivation".

"We believe in the location, in the opportunity and the town," Mr Burchell continued. "We see all of this as an opportunity. All of the developments are all communities in their own right. But within that, people will need a centre to be as a heart space.

"We believed from day one that Chineham had been under invested in, under loved and under prioritised, and we wanted to reposition that by giving it that attention, by giving it the love, by prioritising it and making it a focus."

BDBC's development control committee will decide on whether to grant planning permission on Wednesday, August 12 at 2pm. You can watch the meeting live by going to basingstoke.gov.uk/webcast.