PLANS to significantly redevelop Chineham District Centre have been approved by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

Landowners Tellon Capital submitted the plans two years ago after a public consultation, where 94 per cent of respondents approved of the plans.

And nine of the 12 councillors on the Development Control committee decided to back the proposals on Wednesday afternoon.

However, the plans looked set to be rejected after members had questioned the safety of the access from the west of the site, specifically the pedestrian crossing and the footpath from Great Binfields Road and Wade Road.

Cllr Andy McCormick, who had initially moved for refusal of the plans, said that the crossing there was "woefully inadequate" and would involve cyclists and pedestrians appearing from a path through a hedge and into traffic.

"The applicant has made great noises about how many extra [cycle] parking spaces they have got," the Labour group leader told the committee.

"That is all well and good, but if the cyclists are risking their lives to get there in the first place, that is not on.

"They need to look at that and if it is not their job to do that, they need to provide developer's constributions to do this."

However, he withdrew his motion after Mike Townsend, Planning and Development Manager at BDBC, suggested altering one of the conditions of granting planning permission.

The relevant condition of planning permission drafted by officers, condition 38, states: "A pedestrian survey shall be undertaken to inform a study (PV2 Study) into the requirement for providing a signalised pedestrian crossing to the northern perimeter road."

The committee backed proposals to alter that to ensure that the western access is included in this condition.

Nine councillors backed the motion, with only Cllr Jane Frankum opposing.

Cllr Frankum had raised issued with how disabled people would access the centre, saying: "I don't think that we can morally accept this. We are here on behalf of residents and are here to make sure that everything is done to the best it can be."

The initial application had been deferred in July after members of the committee requested more information on how the scene deals with the climate emergency, parking numbers and also the access point.

Many members agreed that the clarification they got from developers Tellon was sufficient, with Cllr Dave George labelling them "very good".

However, concerns persisted regarding the access from the west.

James Burchell, co-founder of Tellon, said he was "extremely pleased" at the decision to grant planning permission.

"We are grateful for the council’s support for our ambitions for Chineham District Centre.

"This is a pivotal step forward in allowing us to deliver the centre’s enhancement to best serve the communities who value it so much.

"We’re extremely pleased to have got to this point and would like to again thank the hundreds of people who have engaged with us, provided their input and shown their support.

"We look forward to continuing to work to create a centre which will be sustainable for the future."

Previously, Mr Burchell said that should planning permission not be granted today, the company would not have appealed or submitted new plans.

He told 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."