Building a shopping centre at Basingstoke Leisure Park could take £32.35 million in trade away from the town centre, leaders have warned.
Labour councillors have pointed to a Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council-commissioned document to back their claim that plans to create a designer outlet centre would hit town-centre shops.
The ‘Retail Impact Study’ circulated among councillors, but not yet published to the public, states: “The redevelopment of the Basingstoke Leisure park could have …a monetary trade diversion of £32.35m.”
Labour group leader Paul Harvey said: “We are concerned about the shift away from the leisure park to a retail park and the impact that would have on the town centre.
“More than £30 million worth of trade would be diverted from the town centre to the retail park. The town centre needs to be supported and we need to see it thrive – Top of Town, Festival Place, and the Malls.”
However, Conservative councillors argued it would offer a different kind of shopping because it would have designer outlet stores modelled on Bicester Village in Oxfordshire and Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth.
They supported the scheme last week, which would create 2,400 jobs and bring an estimated £200m to Basingstoke.
Hannah Golding, councillor for Brighton Hill North, said: “I don’t think we should underestimate the number of people who see outlet shopping as leisure. It’s much different from town-centre shopping.”
The plans proposed by the council and developers NewRiver Retail include a new aquadrome, dual-use ice rink, climbing wall, surfing centre, velodrome, children’s activity centre over 60 acres, as well as outdoor performance space, and seven acres of retail space.
Project leader Cllr John Izett said: “Having a designer outlet centre in Basingstoke with first-class brands not otherwise available in the town would be such a great boost for Basingstoke and many of our residents, who currently have to travel to places like Bicester and Portsmouth for this type of shopping experience, are absolutely right to be delighted.”
But, during a meeting last week, the HandM, Gap and Superdry clothing shops, all already in Festival Place, were among those mooted to open in the centre if it went ahead.
Cllr Harvey added: “They are actually pretty critical anchor stores when you talk about Festival Place. We want to see the leisure park regenerated. We want a really first-class leisure park, something the town can be proud of that will draw people in, but we need to protect the town centre for retail.”
Festival Place declined to comment.
The Observer also reported last week a debate between councillors over whether the plans to include natural floodplain Saunders Field in the plans would increase the risk of flooding in parts of Basingstoke such as Buckskin.
An illustrative masterplan of designs for the leisure park and retail centre was published in December, but a planning application has not been submitted.