Winchester planning officers have sparked a row over a recommendation to refuse a new electric vehicle (EV) super hub near the A34.

Basingstoke-based InstaVolt applied for the development which, if approved, would be one of the biggest in the country. 

The site is at Three Maids Field, Andover Road, north of the city.

The main vehicle charging station would have 33 car charging bays, four large van charging bays, four drive-through charging bays for large/towing vehicles and three designated disabled bays.

However, Winchester City Council's planning officers have recommended it for refusal, ahead of a planning committee meeting on Tuesday, December 12. 

Adrian Keen, InstaVolt CEO, said: “In the face of pollution and sustainability issues, Winchester City Council has the opportunity to lead the way and future-proof society as EV ownership grows. 

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Daily Echo: Site plan for Three Maids Field

“By granting permission, the council’s planning committee would be helping to enhance the public EV charging infrastructure, ready for the EV revolution.

“There are now more than 920,000 fully electric cars on UK roads, and it’s through having reliable and well positioned EV charging hubs and provision that will encourage people to make the switch to a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way to travel further than their local neighbourhood.

“The proposed new site would also encourage local economic growth through job creation, and as people charge, it could encourage them to explore the city of Winchester and enhance tourism.” 

The scheme has received supporting comments from Littleton and Harestock Parish Council and seven members of the public. It has also had five objections.

Daily Echo: Three Maids Field, Andover Road

Mr Keen added: “We understand that our application is innovative, so it doesn’t fit within the policies of a decade’s old Local Plan. But the government has made it clear that low carbon EV projects, like this need to be going through planning more quickly. We’re offering the site to be used in a way which aligns with the council’s green agenda, and we don’t want to be immediately discounted.

“To say there is no operational need for this rapid charging hub, is saying that EV drivers do not need to charge their vehicle while on the road and away from their homes. We need common sense to prevail here.

“We take great care when considering sites for our hubs, including how we connect to the grid, which is another reason why this site is so well suited. The reasons for refusal are in no way substantive.”

In the planning officers' report, it said: “The development would result in a significant new element of built development in the open countryside and the scale, design and layout of the proposal would not have regard to its rural context, thereby resulting in harm to the countryside and immediate locality. 

Daily Echo: Similar InstaVolt charging site in Banbury

“There is insufficient information accompanying the application to ensure the proposed ground levels would not impact adversely upon the character of the site and the proposed lighting strategy (which would be required to operate 24 hours a day) would further exacerbate the visual harm associated with the development through drawing attention to the infrastructure within the site.

"The proposal when considered as a whole would therefore both visually and physically constitute an incongruous feature within its surroundings and would significantly alter the balance between open countryside and existing built development. As such the proposal causes significant and demonstrable harm to the rural character of the area.

“Developing charging infrastructure to meet climate objectives should not form part of a justification for inappropriately located or designed development and, having regard to the harmful impacts identified it is therefore recommended that planning permission should be refused.”

The application will be decided by Winchester City Council's planning committee on Tuesday, December 12.