The council leader has spoken out in support of a new warehouse scheme which would create an estimated 3,500 jobs on the eve of a crunch meeting to decide its fate.

Tomorrow night, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s development control committee will vote on two planning applications to build warehouses at Oakdown Farm in Dummer.

Newlands Property Development, behind the Basingstoke Gateway project near junction 7 of the M3, has estimated 1,447 new jobs would be directly created as a result of the scheme’s approval as well as a further 2,025 indirect jobs which would inject £74million into Basingstoke’s economy.

Councillor Ken Rhatigan, leader of the borough council, said this was an opportunity to create new jobs for Basingstoke with proposals that met the council’s green ambitions.

Read more: Basingstoke Gateway project set to be decided 

Speaking to The Gazette, he said: “I as leader of the council will not be speaking at development control tomorrow. As the application was not in the local plan, I feel that anything I say may have undue influence over how councillors vote.

“However, I would like to make my position on the application as clear as I can in the hope that my input will ensure – after a long deliberation – that the committee will be supportive of council officers and will vote with their recommendations as outlined – one for approval and one for rejection.”

Cllr Rhatigan said there were many positives for Basingstoke from Newlands’ proposals which would include new jobs for residents plus funding of infrastructure which would save the taxpayer money.

Read more: Developer pledges to fund new bus services 

He added: “My views are made on balance and I do believe it is the right thing for the area to provide some financial security for residents. There will lots of people who are losing their jobs at the moment, some could be from the John Lewis Partnership. As leader it is great to know that businesses want to invest and create more jobs for more families in our town.”

“At a time of job losses, it is important that we recognise the benefits that new developments such as this will bring. It will not only offer jobs in picking and packing but IT, human resources, mechanical jobs that would not normally come to Basingstoke on such a scale."

He pointed out that there would be secondary benefits if the scheme is approved as the developer has committed to paying for the road to service a new hospital, which would be built nearby. 

Cllr Rhatigan said he acknowledged that residents living in Dummer would find it difficult but said: “Life has to move on. We have to adapt and change.”

The leader commended the project’s commitment to being climate-conscious through their intentions to create a landscape buffer between Dummer and their development as well as investing in green transport infrastructure.

Cllr Rhatigan said he would not be speaking at tomorrow night's meeting as it was decided by cabinet that his comments might influence councillors. 

A Gazette poll asking readers for their thoughts on the project produced a split vote with 48 per cent in favour and 49 per cent against.

Basingstoke Gazette: Gazette readers had their say over the junction 7 plans Gazette readers had their say over the junction 7 plans

The meeting will be aired on YouTube tomorrow evening and The Gazette will be running a live blog.