A BATTLE has erupted over plans to expand operations at a controversial bikers cafe.

The new owner of the Loomies Moto Cafe site in the Meon Valley has applied to build workshop in four containers behind the cafe.

The application to the South Downs National Park (SDNP) has sparked 90 objections with objectors fearing it will lead to an increase in use of Loomies on Alton Road and therefore a rise in noise pollution from speeding motorbikes.

London-based Loperty Ltd, who bought the site near the junction of theA272 and A32 last year, say the containers will also be space for the storage of merchandise for the Loomies shop and cafe produce.

Loperty are also seeking permission for permanent use of a caravan as accommodation.

But the application has quickly attracted scores of objections from local people as well as 30 letters of support from motorcycle enthusiasts from across southern England.

People living along the A32 and A272 have been campaigning for many years for the police to clampdown on speeding bikers especially those with illegally modified exhausts. Police speed cameras on the A272 have recorded bikers travelling at 130mph.

Stephen Prowse, of Long Priors, West Meon, wrote of the proposal: "This will increase bike activity which there is too much of already, racing around and through the village of West Meon. The weekend is almost unbearable with the bike noise as it already stands. Why does a café need a workshop for bikes? It's just going to cause havoc for the surrounding area."

Michael Challen, of Peak Farm Lane, East Meon, said: "I really cannot believe that the SDNP is really even considering this application, their staff only need to visit the area particularly at a fine weekend to see the problems that the residents of the Meon Valley have to face with the invasion of bikers from what seems all areas of the globe, with their riding antics, excessive speed, and loud exhausts effectively terrorising this part of Hampshire."

Jo Copsey, of High Street, West Meon, said: "In the years Loomies have been trading the motorbike noise all along the A32 has been horrendous. There are many who say on social media that Loomies is not to blame for the increase motorbike traffic but this is simply not true. In the 40+ years my family have owned our house the noise and behaviour of some bikers has definitely got worse since Loomies opened. There is footage on social media of bikers filming themselves doing wheelies and driving dangerously outside Loomies on the A32."

Rebecca Hurlock, of Woodlands, near Bramdean, wrote that Loomies customers do not socially distance: "Expanding Loomies would give such individuals more leeway to continue selfish, destructive behaviours. This lovely, normally quiet, area of Hampshire would be devastated by individuals who are happy for their own selfish, unreasonable needs to usurp those of the surrounding neighbours, residents and wildlife in terms of litter, noise pollution and general wreckage."

Andrew Barr, of West Meon Road, East Meon, stated: "On first glance this planning application for four more shipping containers at Loomies seems fairly innocuous until you look at the context. The new owner has recently gained retrospective planning permission for the first container on the site and has another planning application under consideration for change of use of a caravan currently used as an office to become permanent living accommodation.

"These three applications taken together show that there is a rapid expansion of the facilities at Loomies underway. This expansion should be resisted by the SDNP planning authority due to the increase in motorcycle noise that will inevitably come with it."

Jackie Ware, of Hayden Lane, Warnford, stated: The “Communities Against Noise and Speed” (CANS) have identified that problems are ongoing within the SDNP and motorbikes with speeds of over 180mph, some with illegal plates are causing excessive noise in the surrounding villages, affecting the 18,500+ residents within the community. The residents of these villages have been campaigning about the noise pollution for two decades. “Quartix Vehicle Tracking” have named the A32 the fifth most dangerous road in the country and it seems irresponsible to add to the potential of further accidents."

Parish councils at West Meon, East Meon, and Bramdean and Hinton Ampner have also objected, saying the containers will be visually intrusive.

City councillor Hugh Lumby told the Chronicle: “This is a completely inappropriate planning application, rightly opposed by many local residents, already suffering from the increase in motorbike noise. Its in an important and clearly visible location at the intersection of two major roads. Ugly containers will damage and degrade this beautiful area. I do hope the applicants think again or it is rejected by the planners.”

Support has come from far afield. C Fox, of South Downs, Redruth, Cornwall, said: "I am in support of the application, Loomies is a valuable asset to local tourism and adds unique independence and a characterful business to the local area."

Alex Maitland, of Wickham Road, Fareham, wrote: "I fully support a business getting the opportunity to grow and add great things to the local area, especially in these tough times and especially when it's the addition of a workshop providing more jobs and a lovely, safe and trusted place be able to go to. I don't understand how this can be objected to in these times when peoples livelihoods are at risk and any addition that can help a business grow and secure those peoples jobs should be supported."