PLANNING chiefs have approved an application that aims to breathe new life into a former industrial site that has stood idle for 16 years.

Colten Care has been given permission to build two office buildings and a warehouse on part of the old Wellworthy engineering site in Christchurch Road, Ringwood.

Wellworthy, which produced parts for cars and aircraft, was a major employer in the town until the works shut down in 1998.

Colten’s application to redevelop part of the 17-acre site was approved by the district council’s planning committee amid hopes the scheme could create a large number of much-needed jobs.

A report to members said: “The land has been vacant for a number of years and most of the buildings have been cleared.

“The warehouse would provide long-term storage for furniture and similar items for care homes and, it is stated, will not be subject to the same levels of noise and large vehicle movements as other warehouse buildings.

“Visually the buildings would be set well into the Wellworthy site and would not be readily visible from the public domain.”

The report said the scheme would provide 55 parking spaces and 20 cycle bays – “slightly less” than recommended.

The majority of committee members supported the application, approved providing the applicant provided more parking.

Cllr Maureen Holding said: “It will provide employment. We don’t know how much but employment is very much needed.”

Cllr Barbara Woodifield added: “We have waited years for this site to be redeveloped and I’m really excited it’s going to happen.”

But Cllr John Penwarden warned that the comparatively low number of parking spaces could result in people using nearby roads that were already “overloaded” with parked cars.

Speaking after the meeting Colten Care’s chief executive Mark Aitchison said: “This is a great example of regenerating former industrial land for other uses. The planners’ decision gives us a number of strategic options for office and warehouse use within the scope of the planning application.

“At this stage, however, it remains a speculative move on our part. While we now have a long-term view of potential development, it is simply too early to say what we will or will not take through to actual operation.”

He was unable to say how many jobs would be created.