A NATIONAL occupier is in talks with the developers of a proposed storage and distribution warehouse planned for Junction 7 of the M3.

Newlands Development is hoping to secure planning permission to build the 271,000 square metre distribution hub (equivalent to 38 football pitches) known as Basingstoke Gateway, at Oakdown Farm, which could deliver 1,500 new jobs and bring in £31 million direct investment to Basingstoke.

Members of the public were able to put questions to those behind the plans at a live event held via YouTube.

Addressing questions around the proposed occupier, John Barker, development director for Newlands, said it was hoped this could be revealed in the coming weeks, explaining: “There’s a lot of speculation around who the end occupier is. Unfortunately, all I can say at this stage is the scheme has been designed to meet a national occupier’s requirements.

"However, the contracts have not been finalised and signed at present and therefore the occupier needs to remain confidential at this stage. But that is something that hopefully in the coming weeks we will be able to have further announcements as to who they are.”

He added: “Over the last five years the distribution sector has seen steady growth but particularly over the last two to three years. And now online sales represent over 30 per cent of all retail sales and that’s something we will only see increase post the pandemic. This is reflected in the interest we have had in this site.”

Questions were also raised about the development co-existing with a possible new hospital. Another area of the site was previously earmarked by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) for a critical treatment hospital; however, these plans were scrapped in 2017 because they were deemed unaffordable.

HHFT is currently consulting again on building a new hospital, but it yet to reveal any possible sites.

Responding to questions about this, Mr Barker said: “We have been working collaboratively with the council and also with adjoining landowners in ensuring that our proposals hopefully knit in nicely to any future development here.

“We absolutely see this application as being very important in that process of this part of Basingstoke being redeveloped. And far from potentially, as some people have suggested, fettering the ability for other land adjacent to us, for whatever use that may be, we actually think it’s enhancing that opportunity.”

Newlands is now looking to submit a full planning application, hoping for the warehouse to open by the summer of 2022.

Mr Barker said: “It’s really positive news for the region. It’s really important to stress the job creation here and that, subject to approval, we will be on site next year with a fully built facility by 2022. In these uncertain economic times, we think that’s really positive in terms of job opportunities and investment in the borough.”

Through using sustainable energy and a sustainable travel plan, Newlands say the development will work towards the borough council’s goal of achieving net zero carbon by 2030.

For more information visit givemyview.com/basingstokegateway.