A LONG-STANDING and independently-owned Winchester cookshop is due to close in January as it can no longer afford to pay its rent and business rates.

Dinghams Cookshop, in The Square, is closing because it cannot make a profit and afford to stay at its current location.

The business, which also has a shop in Salisbury, exercised a break clause in the lease of the building, which is owned by Winchester City Council.

Part-owner of Dinghams, Becca Hardingham, explained that the business had been in talks with the council for a year to try and lower the rent.

She said: “Unfortunately, the Winchester shop will close. We have tried to look for smaller premises in the city, but none were appropriate.

“The staff at the Winchester shop will have the option to move across to Salisbury. Now we will be focussing on the Salisbury shop with its cafe and our online shop.”

Cllr Kelsie Learney, cabinet member for housing and asset management, said: “It’s a real shame that Dinghams have chosen to exercise the break clause in their lease, we didn’t ask them to leave.

“The council were happy to talk about the rent level at their rent review next year and central government sets the level of business rates.”

Cllr Learney added: “I know a lot of similar businesses have really suffered in the face of online competition – particularly when people visit to see what’s available and then shop online.

“I hope they find a suitable location that means they can stay in the city. Winchester has a low number of empty shops compared to other towns and cities, so it’s not always easy for retailers to find a suitable location.”

Dinghams is a family business which has been in Winchester for almost 30 years. The shop have not confirmed an exact closing date yet, but it is expected to close its Winchester branch in January.

READ MORE HERE: Letter about closure of Dinghams