TRADERS in Alresford are refusing to accept the expansion of a rival business.

The newly-formed Alresford Residents and Traders Group has been taking advice following the approval by Winchester City Council for Long Barn.

The group says the permission is fundamentally and procedurally flawed, and therefore granted on an unlawful basis.

Ian Ellis, of Southern Planning Practice, in a letter to the council said: “The traders and residents I represent feel very strongly that the application was considered and determined on misleading and false information.”

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The Alresford Society and town chamber of commerce also objected, fearing the growth of Long Barn would undermine the vitality of the market town.

In a statement, Long Barn owners Jane Marsden and Richard Norris, said: “Sadly, the rather unpleasant and negative campaign against Long Barn continues.

“The city council followed due process in reaching its decision on our planning application following considerable public debate and fact checking; and the decision was in favour of Long Barn by a clear majority, five votes against two. Both the management and staff are clearly delighted in this result and we would all like to thank the overwhelming support we have had from so many locals, friends and family over the last few months.

“We now urge the few anonymous traders who have given themselves the title ‘Alresford Residents and Traders’ to set aside their campaign against another local business and concentrate on attracting visitors to their stores and to Alresford.

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“It is fair to say that there are many Alresford residents and traders who are getting sick and tired of the negativity around this anti Long Barn campaign and other trading developments in our town. We need to recognise that we are very fortunate to live and work here, especially when you look at the state of retail and the high street nationally.

“It’s only with positive community minded action that we can all support Alresford, its residents and its traders and not with this unpleasant divisiveness.”

Daniel Wiseman, director at Gillings Planning added: “Alresford’s town centre is thriving, there is not a single vacant unit in the town and visitor numbers have increased. Our evidence set out in our ‘Town Centre Health Check’ demonstrates that Long Barn is attracting visitors to Alresford; many of whom then go on to visit the town.

“The UK planning system is not a tool to prevent retail competition, but it does require local planning authorities to consider the impacts of all developments. In the case of Long Barn, the city council has made a valid planning decision based on the facts.”