THE director of a motorist-focused coffee chain has denied expanding the car park of the business's newest venture.

Caffeine and Machine opened its new location, The Hut, on the site of the West Meon Hut pub on the junction of the A272 and A32 on Sunday, March 17.

Meon Valley residents have raised concerns about the size of the car park, saying that the chain has expanded it without permission. Council planners are investigating.

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Hampshire Chronicle: The car park of The HutThe car park of The Hut (Image: Contributed)

As previously reported, Caffeine and Machine applied to the South Downs National Park Authority and Winchester City Council to extend the size of the site’s car park, bringing the number of spaces from 16 to 71.

However, the application was withdrawn in November of last year.

Caffeine and Machine director Philip McGovern told the Chronicle: “We put the planning application in, but we couldn’t afford to undertake the work that was included in it. So as a board, we made a very quick decision to get the place open using the car park that is there.

“What we’ve done is tidy up the old car park and put some stone over the top and that’s it.

“The planning team from the South Downs (National Park Authority) spoke to us in early January and they came down to us and they closed the case which was caused by local residents. The case was closed as they were happy with what we’ve done. All we have done is tidy the site up, we have not expanded the car park. We wanted to get it open, we wanted to get it up and trading, and considering the car park we have we thought we were capable of making it financially viable.”

Hampshire Chronicle: The car park of The West Meon Hut in late 2023The car park of The West Meon Hut in late 2023 (Image: Google Maps)

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Mr McGovern also said that, once the business is more established, Caffeine and Machine will resubmit the planning application.

Winchester City Council, which managed the planning application on behalf of the South Downs National Park Authority, told the Chronicle that an investigation has been launched into a possible car park extension.

A council spokesperson said: “The council has recently opened an enforcement investigation, acting on behalf of the South Downs National Park Authority, to check whether a planning breach has occurred. This will be in accordance with the South Downs National Park Authority's enforcement guide. We are therefore unable to give further details at this stage.”