A LEADING tool manufacturer has announced plans to vacate its giant headquarters in the heart of a Hampshire village.

Draper Tools Ltd is set to relocate from its 4.75-hectare site in Chandler’s Ford within five to ten years.

Eventually, the operation will be run from a huge 350,000 sq ft warehouse facility at Test Valley Business Park in North Baddesley.

The first phase of building work – a 120,000 sq ft warehouse – has already been completed.

Now a consultation period is under way after company bosses revealed they want to build up to 160 homes on the Hursley Road and Brooklyn Engineering sites in Chandler’s Ford.

A letter sent to neighbours by the company’s agent Richard Tear, said: “Draper Tools has occupied this site for nearly 50 years.

“The redevelopment will reflect the company’s commitment to the area. It is determined that the redevelopment will be a suitable legacy.”

Last month the company controversially won the right to operate around the clock at its North Baddesley site, off Botley Road.

Nearby residents feared waiving conditions on working hours could result in extra noise pollution.

Mr Tear told Test Valley Borough Council’s planning control committee there were no plans to extend working times – but that the situation may change in the future.

When the matter was put to members it was tied at four votes all forcing the chairman Marion Kerley to use her casting vote to give the tool company permission.

The firm, which has supplied hand tools for industry use since 1919, wants to move to bigger facilities as part of moves to improve efficiency.

Bosses say the entire work force will move with them when they relocate.

A planning application for the housing scheme has not yet been submitted, but may also include proposals for a care home, day care nursery and medical facilities.

Eastleigh Borough Council member for Chandler’s Ford, Grahame Smith, welcomed plans for consultation.

He said: “Housing is something that we need, but also we need something that creates employment for people.”

The meetings will take place in the foyer of the Hursley Road premises next Friday at 4pm and on Saturday November 7 at 10.30am.