Plans regarding an extension to Walworth Business Park have caused confusion among many residents online.

Following the consideration of a confidential item regarding a strategic land purchase by Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC), which is understood to relate to the former sports pitches between the business park and Picket Piece.

Some have said that it is a “secretive planning application”, but in fact, proposals for the site have been known about for many years. Plans are available to inspect online, and have been reported in the Advertiser.

Here’s what we know so far:

What is being built on the Sports Pitches?

Rather than houses, as some have speculated, warehouses are destined for the site.

An extension to Walworth Business Park to the east has been in the pipeline for many years. As previously reported, a collaboration between TVBC and Kier Property Developments Ltd to redevelop the site was first mooted in 2016.

The 11 hectare site, used as sports pitches and agricultural land, was earmarked to become a series of new warehouses, with details contained within the Test Valley Local Plan.

Outline planning permission was then granted to the development in 2017. Outline planning permission allows the proposer of the plans to obtain feedback on their plans, and get general approval for the site.

However, before building can commence, further planning permission is needed with a more detailed plan of what will be constructed on the site. A similar method was used in the construction of Andover Business Park.

What will it be like?

The site, otherwise known as Plot 90, is currently being marketed as ‘Logistics City’. It is advertised as being available for B2 and B8 uses. B2 uses are general industrial purposes, excluding incineration, hazardous waste and chemical treatment, while B8 uses are for general storage and distribution.

Warehouses with space of up to 487,605 square feet can be built on the site, which is to the rear of the Ocado distribution hub. Four units are displayed on indicative plans of the area, but these may be adapted depending on who uses the site.

The units can be rented, or sold to the user on a 150 year lease.

What happens to the sports pitches?

The sports pitches have already been moved. As part of the construction of new suburbs in Picket Twenty, the new sports ground there is the location of the pitches that used to lie on the site.

What’s been said?

As the discussion was a confidential item at the TVBC Full Council Meeting, those councillors involved in the decision making process are not allowed to make specific statements on the matter.

Some councillors have tangentially referred to the plans on social media, without going into specifics. Cllr Christopher Ecclestone said that there was “an attack upon their [Picket Piece residents’] lifestyles and house values”.

TVBC said it was unable to comment on the matter due to commercial confidentiality.

Cllr Chris Donnelly, however, said that no decision contrary to the local plan or outline planning permission had been made at the meeting.

He said: “I would like to reassure residents that no decisions on planning matters have been taken behind closed doors and that any reserved matters submission which is made in the future will come before a public planning committee.”

Meanwhile, the Picket Piece Residents Association said that it was “disappointed that the village has been used as some sort of political chess piece.”

They told the Advertiser: “The implication that something underhand was going on, was met with disappointment and exasperation amongst some residents.

"The Residents' Association was quick to reassure residents of the good working relationship that exists between Test Valley Borough Council and the Residents' Association.

“We reminded residents that plans have been in place to the expand the business park for over five years now, although the Residents' Association hasn't been aware of any updates for some time, we reassured residents that the normal planning process will be followed and that they will have a say in any future development.

“When there are real developments regarding the land between Picket Piece and Walworth Business Park, we look forward to engaging with all stakeholders at an early phase, including the use of public consultations, to ensure that the views of the residents of Picket Piece are considered in any future plans.”