Andover Town Council has objected to controversial plans that would see flats erected on what was intended to be a pub for Picket Twenty.

As previously reported, Persimmon Homes submitted plans to build a block of 18 homes on land designated as the pub for the new estate. Residents called for the space to remain as community land, suggesting it could be used as green space or become a car park.

Andover Town Council shared many of the concerns of the residents, lodging objections to the plans on the grounds of parking and overlooking on other sites, as well as concerns over nitrate neutrality and stress on schools and nurseries in area.

Councillors met at the council’s planning committee on Monday, March 29, where the plans were set for discussion.

Cllr Barbara Long spoke first, noting residents’ concerns over the plans.

She said: “Lots of residents are against having a block of flats on another side of the square and it is going to be dark bricks which I think is going to look quite overpowering. It’s going to be overpowering on the nursery which will be just a small road width away and again, they [Persimmon Homes] are turning around and saying any excess for parking can be used in the central car park.

“That car park not only serves the retail shop, the community centre and the nursery, but is also the only place on the road to drop off for school. It is well-used, that car park, and it is insufficient there is no car parking for the community centre. That community car park is being suggested for everybody and every facility. The pub was meant to be community land, and I know lots of the residents would like it to be more car parking.”

These concerns are disputed by Persimmon, with planning documents stating the flats will give a “significant decrease” in parking demand relative to the pub, and that extra cars using the site “can be comfortably accommodated” elsewhere in the estate.

Cllr Luigi Gregori shared these concerns, saying: “My own personal view is that it was meant to be a community asset and yet again we’re seeing a community asset turned into something that suits the developers.

“There’s a shortage of parking in Picket Twenty and every time I go and see my mates I have to park on the road, or quite often on the pavement, there’s not space. We’ve got this piece of land and I already think there’s overdevelopment there and I think they could look at having another park as there is a lack of green space. They should maybe look at additional parking as well.

“I’m not very happy with the proposal and I don’t think it’s to the benefit of any residents.”

Cllr David Coole, meanwhile, was concerned the flats could preclude the possibility of non-residential developments, saying: “If the risk of these 18 flats is that it will prevent any future retail development in that area, we will be purely restricted to the Co-op and the pharmacy and nothing else.

“If the proposal had included the ground floor as a parade of shops it might have been more amenable to residents, or if it had included more amenity it might have been more palatable.”

He added that he had asked for this plan to be brought to Test Valley Borough Council’s planning committee to be voted on by councillors.

There were also concerns over the impact of the flat on the schools in the area, with Cllr Long saying: “I really feel that that to put flats there will put a strain not only on the school but on the nurseries for more children in Picket Twenty.”

Hampshire County Council’s Children’s services department, however, said the flats would likely have “limited impact on childcare places”, though did note wider concerns over the issue for Picket Twenty as a whole.

Following discussion, councillors decided to object to the plans. They objected on the grounds of parking issues, overlooking of the nursery and other flats, the stress it would put on schools and nurseries, and the lack of detail on nitrate neutrality mitigation measures in the report.