PLANNING chiefs have approved a multi-million-pound proposal to redevelop part of a huge industrial site beside Southampton Water.

Solent Gateway has received consent for a seven-year scheme that will almost double the amount of storage space at the 83-hectare Marchwood Military Port.

The proposed development includes warehouse facilities, industrial space and offices, plus security buildings and a staff welfare unit.

Solent Gateway's application resulted in an objection from the organisation that runs the neighbouring New Forest National Park.

The National Park Authority told New Forest District Council: "Views from public rights of way within the national park have not been properly considered, and opportunities to reduce light pollution immediately adjacent to the national park should be explored."

The application has also sparked 26 letters of objection and 17 of support.

Some of the families living near the port said they feared the proposed development will result in extra traffic and additional noise.

But the council's planning committee has approved the scheme, subject to the completion of a Section 106 legal agreement.

Solent Gateway wants to increase the amount of cargo storage capacity at the port from 22.7 hectares to 43.8 hectares.

A report to councillors said: "The proposals are for the phased intensification of Marchwood Military Port, including the construction of hardstanding for storage areas.

"Although more HGV movements will take place the operation of the site and controls provided by proposed planning conditions will mitigate the impacts.

"Whilst significant open areas of the site will be developed, 23 hectares of land will be enhanced with new landscaping.

"The high intensity storage use would be separated from the sensitive boundary with the national park to the south-east and north-west by over 600m."

In a statement issued after the meeting Solent Gateway said the proposed development would modernise the port's operations and facilities as well as creating jobs and attracting investment to the area.

It added: "These improvements will allow a wide range of cargoes and commodities to be transported through the port and stored onsite."

Solent Gateway's port director, Richard Parkinson, said: “Our application was the culmination of many months of hard work and I am delighted that New Forest District Council has passed a resolution to grant planning consent for the port’s development.

"We look forward to continuing to work closely with the local community and our partners.”