Councillors have objected to plans to demolish garages in Bilbao Court and replace them with flats over concerns it will exacerbate parking issues in the local area.

Andover Town’s Council lodged an objection to the proposals at a meeting of its Planning Committee on Monday, March 10, where they were addressed by the planning agent behind the housing scheme. If approved, nine flats would be built on the site of 40 vacant garages, which are currently unoccupied due to being too small for modern cars.

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Barbara Long raised concerns that the plans would not have “sufficient parking for the new flats and existing flats,” and of the suggestion existing residents could use lay-bys on Vigo Road.

This is something disputed by the developers, who say “the proposed nine flats will not exacerbate the existing situation” and that “there is no justification to propose additional car parking.”

The plans were brought before Andover Town Council on Monday after previous proposals had been withdrawn on a number of occasions.

The committee was first addressed by Stu Waue, an Andover resident, who asked if the council could “set a precedent” by insisting on the installation of electric vehicle charging points, solar panels and rainwater harvesting facilities.

In response, the chairman of the committee, Cllr Christopher Ecclestone, said: “I have no objection to that, and I don’t think anyone else on this committee does either,” adding that solar panels “would seem to be very desirable” to developments.

The committee was then addressed by Aaron Smith, the planning agent for Bilbao Court, who sought to address concerns raised on previous applications regarding amenity space, parking and nitrate neutrality.

He said: “Our scheme does provide amenity space for all of the flats now. There are balconies serving each of the upper floor units which are all good, usable space and the ground floor flats have their own private amenity space. This is very much unlike the rest of the Bilbao Court scheme where they don’t have these spaces.”

Regarding parking, he said that the scheme exceeded Test Valley Borough Council’s standards on parking by a space. Regarding the concerns of Waue, he said the developers of the garages “would be happy in principle to have some electric vehicle charging points” and would consult on that.

Smith added that land had been secured in Fullerton for the purpose of offsetting the excess nitrates proposed by the development.

Cllr Long thanked Smith for his comments, but said she still had concerns about the proposal. She noted complaints made by residents of Vigo Road about parking on the street.

“What parking is left for the existing flats?” she asked. “The 21 spaces answer the needs for the new development, but the garages provided parking for the rest of the flats in Bilbao Court when they were built.

“They say they can use the lay-bys in Vigo Road but there should be sufficient parking for the whole of Bilbao Court in Bilbao Court. Vigo Road is a very busy road, lay-bys are used continuously almost for allowing parents to drop children off and for people who live in Vigo Road. It should not be mitigating parking spaces for Bilbao Court.”

Cllr David Coole concurred, noting that proposed additional parking for existing residents included in a previous iteration of the proposals had not been carried over to the current plans.

He suggested the existing garages could be demolished and turned into parking for existing residents, with the remaining space used to build a fewer number of flats.

Cllr Gregori subsequently spoke to raise concerns about landscaping and green space amenities in the plans. He noted that Test Valley landscape officers had previously said that the scheme “would be ideal to incorporate more tree planting and soft landscaping to soften the appearance” and would only be acceptable “if a high quality landscaping scheme can be achieved throughout the estate”.

He said: “They still have not convinced Test Valley officers on the landscaping issues. The thing is, it’s quite tight. We’ve got a development, it hasn’t got that much green space associated with it, and I have to ask, is it contributing to additional green space in Andover? The answer is basically no.

“I’m delighted that the developers and architects have addressed some of the issues we’ve raised but there’s still a way to go.”

The council then decided to lodge an objection to the plans, on the grounds of insufficient parking for new and existing flats and not enough green space being provided. They also added comments recommending the consideration of solar panels, charging points and rainwater collection facilities, as well as querying where the land for nitrate mitigation should be contained within Andover.