PLANS to expand an Alresford business have divided residents, with some fearing it will harm town traders.

Owners of the home and garden store Long Barn are seeking permission to expand the range of items sold, as well as expand the cafe by altering the conditions of its current planning permission.

However, dozens of people have objected to the proposal. Among them is Damon Barker, of West Street, Alresford, who wrote to Winchester City Council planners to say: "The original limitation were imposed originally in part to help preserve the delicate balance that exists within the town by retail and hospitality businesses that are long established in Alresford.

"Does the council really want to put the long-term economic viability of the town's traders at risk?

"What happens in ten years' time when all the permissions are in place for the Long Barn to cease trading and a supermarket takes up residence? That would result in catastrophe."

Francis Podge, of Station Approach, Alresford, added: "Long Barn's encroachment on the historic market town of Alresford, threatening the existing shops and amenities, should not be allowed. "They should be held to their existing planning consents and required to reverse the unauthorised expansions they have perpetrated."

A similar number of people have written in support of the scheme, including former city councillor and planning committee member Ian Tait.

Mr Tait, who is standing for election again in today's election, said: "Since Long Barn was established, it has significantly enhanced Alresford by broadening the retail/food offering of the town.

"Having worked in East Street for some years I am well aware of the retail/food market locally and Long Barn has done nothing but improved the conditions for other businesses.

"The owners of the business were right to push for the site's use in the first place and Alresford is a far better destination because of Long Barn."

In a statement directors Richard Norris and Jane Marsden defended the plans. They said: "Long Barn is a family-run independent business. We have been trading in Alresford for 12 years.

"We have built our business from selling at farmers markets to our first shop on East Street to our current home and garden store. We now employ 60 local people and many of you have sons, daughters, friends and family who work with us."

"The successful growth of our business has meant that we have outgrown the limitations of our original planning permissions. Since November 2018 we have been working with Winchester City Council, at their request, on a retrospective application to correct this. We have not been in receipt of an enforcement notice as alleged by the campaign.

"Through this planning application, we are seeking to regularise our trading position as a home and garden store with cafe.

They added: "Any insinuation that we are in cohorts with our landlord to develop a supermarket on this site is simply untrue and defamatory. We have not invested a decade of our lives in growing our business and everything that entails to turn the site into a supermarket.

"Long Barn is not a threat to the market town of Alresford, Long Barn is an asset to Alresford. Long Barn now attracts more than 150,000 visits to Alresford each year."


t: 01962 860836

e: michael.seymour@