It follows Aldi withdrawing a planning application to move into the Next Clearance and Halfords units
Many were left disappointed following Aldi’s decision to withdraw its plans to move into the Farnborough Gate Retail Park.
The application was withdrawn on January 15, the same morning that a Rushmoor Borough Council development management committee was due to discuss the plans and reach a determination on the proposal.
Regardless of Aldi’s withdrawal, two neighbouring units, currently occupied by Next Clearance and Halfords, are soon to be empty. Next Clearance is closing and will rely solely on its store at The Meadows in Sandhurst, while Halfords is relocating to the unit currently under construction in the retail park.
So, how best to fill these two soon-to-be-empty units?
You put your suggestions on the Get Hampshire Facebook page and it generated more than 250 responses – some more serious than others.
Among the most popular suggestions was budget clothing store Primark.
Currently residents in the vicinity of Farnborough Gate have to travel to either Camberley or Woking to reach their nearest store.
A Primark megastore would fill the void left by Next Clearance’s closure. The only clothing store left in the retail park will be TK Maxx once the units are empty; Primark will provide an alternative.
B&M was by far the most popular of your suggestions.
Popularised by social media cleaning guru Mrs Hinch, B&M is one of the UK’s fastest growing variety retailers.
However, the most local stores to the Farnborough area are as far away as Basingstoke, Surbiton and Crawley currently.
It has become increasingly popular after being regularly used by Mrs Hinch, who herself has gained fame for her clever tidying tips.
One mother claims she uses a specific £1 product from B&M which “keeps shirt as white as the day you bought them”.
The Swedish furniture store that needs no introduction.
The lack of parking was cited as one of the reasons as to why planning permission for an Aldi was recommended for refusal. It is difficult, then, to envisage planning permission for an IKEA being granted for that reason alone.
There would also be the tough decision between IKEA’s meatballs or a McDonald’s.
Here is everything we know about the 35,000sqm IKEA store that could open not a million miles away from Farnborough.
Make way for another exit
Perhaps not the most financially viable suggestion, but many of you took the opportunity to highlight the existing traffic and parking woes at Farnborough Gate.
It would involve demolishing at least one of the units, rather than filling it, and building a new link road and exit out of the car park.
One comment likened the current situation to a “game of Tetris”.
It said: “Another exit would be great. I’ve spent some time stuck in that oversized game of Tetris. On one occasion I bought a shirt from Next, by the time I got out of there it was out of fashion.”
Another of the most popular suggestions, a discount store is seemingly the option most shoppers want to see fill the empty units.
Home Bargains claims to be “a luxury shopping experience with a budget price tag”.
The most local stores to Farnborough Gate are as far afield as Byfleet and Basingstoke.
One comment said: “Primark… IKEA… B&M… Range… all these stores are too far away for a lot of people to get to so would be nice for Farnborough to have some.”
Much like demolishing the empty units to create a new exit for traffic, a nightclub was among the less serious suggestions we received.
There is no doubt that the vacant units are big enough to hold a nightclub, and the McDonald’s across the retail park would certainly benefit from party-goers in search of food following their night out.
A comment said: “A nightclub? That way during the day parking is not affected as no one will be going there and at night the car park is empty. And they can all stagger to McDonald’s, win win.”
Despite there being The Range in neighbouring Aldershot, many of you want to see one come to Farnborough Gate.
The chain retailer sells home, garden and leisure products – including furniture and and kitchen equipment.
Aldershot lost its Marks & Spencer back in 2015. How about making up for that loss by having a store in Farnborough Gate?
The retailer is always a hot spot for shoppers due to the wide range and high quality of products it has on offer.
While there are stores in Camberley and Guildford, there is no longer a Marks & Spencer in Rushmoor.
An unusual suggestion was for a climbing centre to be installed in the vacant units.
The two-storey building is certainly high enough to accommodate the climbing walls.
A huge state-of-the-art climbing and bouldering centre just opened over the Surrey border near Felbridge. Opening another to the west of Surrey sounds like great fun and an even better idea.
A two-storey Nando’s
Unlikely and controversial, but a Nando’s would be one way to fill a half-time break during a day of shopping at the retail park.
The chicken restaurant would certainly attract non-shopping crowds on the A331 to take the short detour to Farnborough Gate to refuel their batteries, too.
It would give shoppers a choice between some fast food at McDonald’s, a coffee break at Costa or some flame-grilled chicken at Nando’s.
Where Aldi failed in in gaining planning permission, could Lidl succeed?
It is difficult to imagine that the supermarket would satisfy the parking issues raised by the council in the Aldi planning application, though.
There are Lidl stores in Camberley and Aldershot, too.
One commenter wanted to encourage some competition within the retail park.
They said: “Aldi and Lidl side by side. Let’s see who performs better”
John Lewis at Home
The home department of the high-end department store would be welcomed by many to Farnborough Gate.
John Lewis fans have to travel down to Basingstoke or up to Newbury to get to their nearest store.
There were multiple suggestions for a John Lewis at Home, showing it would be a main attraction at the retail park.
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