Among their many duties, one of the most important roles of councils is to decide on planning applications.

Whether it’s at a town council level, where decisions are made on whether or not to object to the plans, or at a borough council level, where plans are considered and approved, there are always major decisions being made over what can be built in your area.

Some of these decisions are bigger, and more controversial, than others. Here are some of the big planning decisions that are still up in the air:

Bilbao Court Flats

Plans to build nine flats on the site of former garages in Bilbao Court have raised concerns over the availability of parking and landscaping in the local area.

Under the plans, Irongate Developments Ltd plans to demolish 40 vacant garages on the site and build a block of nine flats, as well as parking for residents of these buildings. Previous plans for the site have been submitted and withdrawn on a number of occasions.

Aaron Smith, the planning agent for Bilbao Court, has said that the most recent iteration of the plans provides improvements on what has gone before.

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

At a meeting of Andover Town Council’s planning committee, Cllr Barbara Long said that she was concerned of the effect the development would have on other residents, noting 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.”

The council subsequently lodged an objection to the plans, on the grounds of insufficient parking for new and existing flats and not enough green space being provided.

Since then, Hampshire Highways have said they have no objection to the plans, subject to TVBC assessing whether parking is sufficient. TVBC officers had previously objected on landscaping grounds, saying the scheme would only be acceptable “if a high quality landscaping scheme can be achieved throughout the estate”.

The plans are still being considered, and comments can be made using the reference 21/00456/FULLN on TVBC’s planning portal.

The Lawn Houses

Plans to build nine houses in the heart of Whitchurch have raised controversy amongst residents of the town.

The houses are proposed on a patch of land at The Lawn, adjacent to Church Street and the River Test. The Lawn is the former home of Lord Denning, one of the most notable judges of the 20th century and one of Whitchurch’s most famous sons.

Under the plans, an existing gate onto Church Street will be widened, providing access to nine houses to be built on land located between the road and the River Test.

Plans have been considered for the area of the estate for some time, with Lord Denning having had plans drawn up in 1983 for housing to be built on the site. These were never acted on, however, with the latest plans submitted on November 23, following a pre-application submission.

The houses will all be between one and a half to two stories high, and a mix of two and three bedroom properties, with one additional four bedroom house.

The plans have been very contentious, with over 100 objections on the proposals.

Claire Ryan said that the houses, which would be built within the Whitchurch Conservation Area, were “totally unsuitable” for the site, and that the current proposals included a “too dense plan of houses, which are inappropriately designed for the local area”.

“I couldn't object more strongly to this,” she added.

Whitchurch Town Council concurred, saying the plans did not support the neighbourhood plan and would affect the conservation area of the town. The borough council also noted this, saying it is likely development on the site “will cause harm” to nearby listed buildings, and the wider conservation area.

However, more recent comments from Historic England say the proposals would “cause less than substantial harm” to surrounding historic sites like the silk mill, though noted that harm would be “towards the upper end of less than substantial”.

Residents were also concerned about the nearby road, with Alexander Wilkins saying the plans would add “considerable further strain” on Church Street, while another was concerned access to the site would be “dangerous” due to the bend in the road.

The developers have said that the scheme has been “carefully developed to make a positive contribution to the architectural character of the local area, and to provide spacious light-filled homes for the occupants, while being respectful to the surrounding context,” and the visual impact on the conservation area is “not considered to be major”.

Regarding transport, the developer’s transport assessment calculated that the extra traffic would amount to two per cent increase, while the visibility from the junction met the limits set by Hampshire County Council. As such, it states there will be no “material impact” on transport.

The plans are still being considered, and comments can be made using the reference 20/03262/FULon Basingstoke & Deane’s planning portal.

P20 ‘Pub’ Flats

Plans to build on a site originally designated as a community asset, specifically a pub, have concerned residents of the Picket Twenty estate.

Andover Town Council objected to the plans over concerns of the impact on parking, as well as overlooking other buildings, nitrate neutrality and putting stress on the area’s assets.

Cllr Barbara Long 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.”

As for proposals to turn the site into additional community space, Persimmon said that Picket Twenty has an “over-provision” of open space and that it had “adequately provided” facilities for the Picket Twenty estate with a block of flats on the site making “the best use of available land”.

The plans are still being considered, and comments can be made using the reference 21/00456/FULLN on TVBC’s planning portal.