A ROW over an Alresford business expansion plan has become the most contested local issues for 20 years.

By early this week some 350 people had commented on Long Barn’s application to gain retrospective permission for expanding the range of its products.

The issue is contentious because town centre traders say Long Barn, on Bishop’s Sutton Road, is unfairly damaging their business.

Hampshire Chronicle:

The only issue to attract as much controversy were plans for a supermarket next to Arlebury Park in the late 1990s.

In organised campaigns 150 people have written to object to the city council and some 200 have written in support with many coming from outside the local area.

Among the objectors is TV presenter Alastair Stewart. Mr Stewart, of Wood Lane, Bramdean, and his wife Sally wrote: “I object to any abuse, by the owners, of existing permissions. Without the strict adherence to such permissions, we lose control, through our elected officers, of our communities, our amenities and our countryside.

READ: Long Barn expansion plan is dividing Alresford >>>

“Second, I object to any further permissions because what was initially a modest and useful retail offer has grown out of all recognition. Finally, I object on the basis that a longer term intention of utilising full retail permissions may well be used for a purpose quite alien to the character of Alresford. We live in Bramdean and Alresford in our closest town. We consider ourselves as close neighbours and nearly residents. Many of our friends live in this great community and we share their glowing concerns.”

Hampshire Chronicle:

The plans has sparked one of the most sustained campaigns in recent memory, with 150 objections and 200 in support, many of those coming from outside the area.

One local person supporter is Christopher Boyd-Platt, of Covey Way: “I would like to support this application as feel that the Long Barn is a perfect example of a hard working small business that has listened to its customers and have seen growth because if it. They attract a large numbers of visitors from outside of Alresford, who then go on and spend money locally, helping our market town flourish and remain a destination attraction.”

James Buck, of Balmoral Close, Southampton, said: “The Long Barn is an asset to Alresford, I visit often and not just Long Barn, I also shop at other retail businesses and food establishments which I know others also do.”

In a statement directors Richard Norris and Jane Marsden defended their plan: “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.”

Hampshire Chronicle:

“The 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 the 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.”

  • Write to letters@hampshirechronicle.co.uk.