A CONTROVERSIAL bid to allow different types of uses at an industrial unit has been approved by the narrowest of margins.

Ceejay Systems in Gravel Hill Farm, Shirrell Heath, near Shedfield, was granted permission despite the planning committee vote ending in a tie.

It was first application to be voted on by the committee since the local elections, and was approved by new chairman Cllr Therese Evans’ casting vote.

The changes had proved controversial, with the committee hearing concerns the application was more about making the site attractive to prospective buyers than expanding the business, as stated in the planning report.

Objector James Caine, who described himself as a chartered town planning consultant, said: “This application is not all it seems.

“The land owner is winding down the business and trying to make the whole site more attractive.

“The highway network simply cannot cope with an influx.”

However, Jim Beavan, of agent Savills, said the proposal would give the business flexibility, citing the risk of an “unfavourable Brexit deal being pushed through parliament”.

Confirming the site was being marketed for sale, Mr Beavan added: “Ceejay Systems have been very pragmatic; should this application fail, they will need to look at a sale.”

Addressing traffic concerns, Mr Beavan said the changes would result in a slight reduction in the number of vehicle movements.

Debating the scheme a number of councillors on the committee complained they were having to make a decision on an application that included a lot of ‘ifs’.

Cllr David McLean said: “We don’t know what businesses are going to be there so we don’t know what vehicle movements there are going to be.”

Cllr Brian Laming added: “There’s an awful lot of ‘ifs’. I think that with the lack of clarity of what is going on the site, I’m unable to support [the plans].”

The committee also criticised Hampshire County Council highways officers for not being at the planning committee to explain their lack of objection to the scheme.