OCADO’S new distribution facility in Andover is expected to create even more jobs than was originally thought.
The £30million hi-tech plant at South Way, on Walworth Business Park, is now likely to bring 1,400 new jobs – 200 more than was first stated.
Financial contributions from the firm towards the area’s infrastructure, such as roads, should also bring further improvements to bus services as part of a drive towards sustainable transport.
Andover MP Sir George Young said: “I welcome the creation of new jobs for those living in and around the town – 1,400 jobs is roughly double the number of those currently seeking work.
“The Walworth Business Park has good access to and from the A303 without going through residential areas, so the environmental impact should be acceptable.”
A planning application has been submitted to Test Valley Borough Council and was due to be considered by the northern area planning committee last night. It addresses the impact the firm’s transport needs, including its delivery lorries, could have on the town.
Councillors had been advised to delegate the granting of permission to the head of planning, subject to conditions and the agreement of appropriate financial contributions towards highway infrastructure improvements.
In his report, planning officer Jason Owen said: “The application is accompanied with a transport statement that assesses the number of likely vehicle movements, the profile of vehicles likely to arise, and the subsequent impact on the highway network.
“This has been the subject of extensive discussions with Hampshire County Council highway engineers and the applicant, and further information and draft plans have been received.
“In taking into account the number and timings of vehicle movements, the nature of existing infrastructure in the vicinity of the site, together with the applicant’s commitment to enter into obligations to secure the provision of improvements to the highway, to widen sustainable transport links in the area, and the provision of a staff travel plan, the proposal is considered acceptable. It would not have a detrimental impact on the highway network.”
Money in the form of developer contributions would be used to implement policies in the Andover Town Access Plan, which sets out ways of improving sustainable access in the town by boosting cycle, pedestrian and bus transport.
The application seeks mainly to convert the interior of existing buildings at plot 54 and plot 89, and a 30m extension to the rear of plot 54.
Sir George said that he hoped some of the new jobs would be on the IT and skilled engineering side of distribution to get a better balance of jobs in the town and drive up average wages. He said: “These new jobs will also benefit local retailers and enable the town to sustain a broader range of shops with higher turnover.”