A Test Valley Borough Councillor has raised questions against a planning application after the developer submitted a proposal to build 30 flats in place of a derelict office block in Andover.

Robert Cort Properties is applying to build new houses in place of Babbage House located on Anton Mill Road, which was formerly a computing hub for Lloyds TSB.

But, Cllr Richard Rowles, who has been raising concerns about the site 'leaking oil' into the streams feeding the Rooksbury Mill nature reserve, is questioning whether a contamination assessment has been conducted prior to the submission of the application.

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Cllr Rowles has now written to the Test Valley planning department, requesting a formal objection to the application.

He wrote: “Section 6 of the application form states ‘No’ to the question ‘Land where contamination is suspected for all or part of the site’. Following the outcome of my conversations with the Environmental Agency it was clear that for investigations to be completed to ensure the origin, and possible ground contamination was established, that demolition would need to occur before this survey could be conducted.

"This was due to the unsafe nature of the building. My questions area these:

“Has this survey been conducted prior to the submission of this application (ie has the safety of the building been "uprated" so the survey can take place before demolition?)

“If this survey has not been conducted, then the applicant must be aware of this so does this make their application invalid?”

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Babbage House was for many years a computing suite for Lloyds TSB, but after falling into disuse, it was sold, with the current owners, Robert Cort Properties, buying it for £1.89 million in 2005.

Cllr Rowles, the former mayor of Andover, had previously raised concerns over the leaks, and had said the site needed to be brought back into use to prevent further damage.

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