A CAMPAIGN is under way to stop two empty shops being turned into apartments.
Shopkeepers and residents are against plans to turn the shops, in Portsmouth Road, Lee-on-the-Solent, into homes.
They say it would be a loss to the area and more effort should be made to find retailers to use them.
Gosport Borough Council has now received 20 letters of objection to the plans.
A petition at the Top Knot hair salon has 90 signatures and leaflets have been sent out encouraging people to voice their opposition.
Andrew Mair, who lives in Portsmouth Road, drew up a leaflet to tell people about the plans.
He said: ‘This parade of shops has been part of the community for decades.
‘The shops there today continue to prosper. There is no doubt there is a demand for local shops and services.
‘This application should be rejected and a genuine effort made to open two shops.’
Traders are worried about parking spaces being lost for customers.
The town’s planning policy says the area is mainly to be used for shopping.
But the two shops have been sat empty for the past three years.
In a letter to the council’s planning department, agents for the firm behind the application say estate agents have struggled to find tenants for the shops. They say turning them into apartments would put them to use.
But Lee East councillor Derek Kimber said: ‘The traders are all against turning these shops into flats and they have good reason. It’s one of the oldest established shopping centres in the area.
‘There seems to be a not very effective effort to get these properties filled with traders. I believe there are more than sufficient reasons to turn it down.’
Proposals include changes to the windows at the front of the building and bin and cycle storage areas.
The council is still accepting comments on the proposals for a change of use.
The plans will then go before the council’s planning board at a later date.