PLANNERS are set to rule on the future of a controversial laboratory that has drawn regular protests from animal rights activists.

Wickham Laboratories wants to modernise its site at Torbay Farm in Scivier’s Lane, Upham, near Winchester.

If approved, the firm plans to move all its activities there from its existing site in Wickham.

Animal rights activists have held regular protest marches in the town against the company’s activities.

The firm wants to relocate to Torbay Farm, which it has operated for many years to produce eggs for scientific research.

It plans to bulldoze the collection of barns and chicken sheds to build a modern two-storey office block.

Around 40 people have written to Winchester City Council to object to the scheme. Their concerns include rising traffic, the site being out of character, and disruption from protests.

Winchester Animal Concern, Upham Parish Council and Winchester MP, Mark Oaten, have also objected.

However, city council officers said they could find no reason to refuse the scheme. It comes after a ruling from Westminster in 2006 that part of Torbay Farm could be used for ‘light industrial’ needs.

The city council’s planning committee will meet at 2pm today (Wednesday, September 23) to decide if the scheme can go ahead.