THREE-HUNDRED jobs could be on the horizon in Gosport after a multimillion-pound shopping centre was given the green light.
The borough council agreed to the proposed Brockhurst Gate Retail Park – opposite Fort Brockhurst – even though council officers were against the plan.
Councillors debated the proposal for more than an hour, before deciding to go ahead with the move.
It is expected that the retail park, which is confirmed to include companies such as Lidl and Costa Coffee, will create 300 new jobs.
A further 200 jobs will be created by the park’s construction, which is being overseen by Millngate Developments.
Cllr Tony Jessop, who chaired the meeting on Wednesday evening, says that council members were unanimous in their decision.
He said: ‘The meeting was very interesting – quite a few members of the public were present as well.
‘When the officers write up the agenda, their recommendations line up with what they consider to be in the best interests of the town centre – hence the recommendation to refuse the application.
‘However, council members were not in agreement of this, and believe that this doesn’t detract from the appeal of the high street.
‘What it does is offer a new retail park that will prove much more convenient for many consumers – while providing new jobs and stimulating the local economy.
‘I think this is a great thing for Gosport, and shows that the town continues to thrive.’
Despite some concerns in the application about the view from Fort Brockhurst being spoiled by the construction of the retail park, Cllr John Beavis says that this is not the case.
He said: ‘The issue of Fort Blockhouse was raised, but this wasn’t a show-stopping concern.
‘The view won’t be spoiled by the new development, and I also think that, in general, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives.’
During the consultation period, Cllr Patrick Bergin spoke to a number of concerned residents – but says they have nothing to worry about.
He explained: ‘In essence, I am satisfied that all of the complaints raised to me have been addressed.’
Tony Sweeney, managing director of Millngate Developments, said: ‘We would like to thank councillors for listening to the views of the local community, which has overwhelmingly supported our proposals.
‘Our vision is to create a high-quality retail, restaurant, community sports and open space environment and we want to be able to open in time for Christmas 2018.’