Kingsbridge attempts to strip Havant Borough Council of control over the traffic generated by its widely rumoured Amazon distribution centre

Kingsbridge Estates have raised another planning application in an attempt to remove or cripple key planning conditions placed on the approval for its proposed Amazon Delivery Centre at the former Pfizer site at 32 New Lane. The conditions in question are those deliberately drafted by Havant Borough Council’s planning officers to enable them to manage the growth of traffic from this site. Since the daily traffic generation numbers declared by the applicant have always been misleadingly ambiguous and certainly low, it is absolutely imperative that HBC refuse this application.

There far more appropriate sites available in Havant Borough which would lower Amazon’s own commercial risks by providing the room for growth and unconstrained access to the national highway network which are essential for meeting its customer delivery promises. These sites, at Solent Distribution Park and Dunsbury Park, would also provide the same employment opportunities for Havant workers. That’s a ‘win-win’ all round.

The original planning application for the redevelopment of the former Pfizer site at 32 New Lane first caught public attention in February 2021 because of the obvious mismatch between the proposed edge-of-town operational business model and the heavily constrained town centre site. 

The News breaks the story on Sept 16

The operational business model is for a parcel distribution operation, one driven by aggressive schedule delivery promises which will only get tougher as the public appetite for same day delivery grows.  Havant Borough Council already have two sites allocated for such business opportunities within easy reach of the strategic road network, Solent Distribution Park by the A27 and Dunsbury Park by the A3(M).

With 95% of the delivery traffic needing to directly access the A27 or the A3(M), it seemed unlikely that ‘a major global corporate business’ would knowingly choose the New Lane location.  The site lies in the middle of an increasingly residential area, is the wrong side of the railway tracks for reliable access to the A27, and is the wrong side of the area’s largest housing estate for quick access to the A3(M).

Despite over 300 objections, many of which focussed on the choice of location for a massive traffic-generating operation, the application was approved by the Planning Committee on 9 September.   However, we give full credit to the Havant Borough Council officers for placing well-crafted conditions on the approval, aimed at containing and managing the very real risk of impacts to local town traffic, the surrounding residents and other local businesses.

The elephant in the room remains the lack of credibility of the daily traffic data which fails the detailed scrutiny of a thorough examination.  While a figure of 2,415 traffic movements per day had been ‘provided by the intended occupier’, it simply doesn’t fit the evidence buried deep within the documentation.  Even if it were true, the numbers are based on a business running at only 58% of its planned delivery capacity and with the public appetite for same day delivery growing fast, significant growth in the traffic volumes are inevitable once the operation begins in late 2022.   A detailed audit of the transport documentation provided with the application shows that the daily traffic figure easily doubles from the 2,415 which persists in the Operational Management Plan to a more realistic figure exceeding 5,000 vehicles per day. 

And there we find the Applicant’s reason for seeking to cancel the HBC officer’s conditions, it is, as the Planning Statement honestly concludes, to make the conditions commercially acceptable”.

The impact of the approval decision made in September will outlive this current council by many years and today’s council would be extremely wise not to relax the planning conditions already applied, which provide HBC and HCC with the essential tools to retain control over the volume of traffic generated from this ill-positioned operation.  If the conditions applied to APP/21/00200 render the proposition ‘commercially unacceptable’ to the intended occupier, then that commercial risk is owned by Havant Property Investments Ltd. (Kingsbridge Estates and Bridges Fund Management), who should seek a more appropriate use for the 32 New Lane site.  Havant Borough Council and Hampshire County Council must not be seen to mitigate the developers’ risk by abdicating control over the loading of the area’s road network at the expense of pedestrian and cycle safety.

Our issue is not with Amazon.  We fully recognise the need to bring new commercial businesses to the borough and would actively support Havant Borough Council should they choose to help relocate the Amazon logistics operation to one of the more appropriate, available locations.

We urge the Council officers and elected representatives to reject this S73 application and ensure that HBC and HCC retain control over the management of traffic on their streets and highways.

To read the full review of this application, by Havant Civic Society and the New Lane Residents’ Group, please take this link or click on the image below.

You can read the Applicant’s documents at the HBC Planning Portal page here.