THE owners of an historic mill are to appeal after proposals to expand it were rejected by planners.
Chesapeake Mill Limited was refused permission by Winchester City Council to create a new tearoom and toilet facilities for the listed building which runs as an antiques centre on Bridge Street in Wickham.
The business already has a small tearoom, but wanted to expand into the neighbouring Mill House to create an 18-seat area with public toilets.
And the move would also have created three new jobs.
Anthony Taylor, from Chesapeake Mill, said: ‘We had been meeting with the planning officers and there didn’t seem to be any problems.
‘They could see we’re only doing this to meet the demands of our existing customers.
‘However, highways came back at the last minute and said that because we’re increasing our floor space by 30sq m they wanted six extra parking spaces.
‘We would have employed three extra members of staff, and had in fact already started that process because of the feedback from the officers.’
Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery has thrown his support behind the business. He said: ‘This is exactly the sort of decision that government has said it is so concerned about.
‘At a difficult time for the economy and concerns about unemployment, to stop a business from expanding for this reason does not make sense – particularly as we know the planning officers and the local parish council were happy with the application.
‘Chesapeake Mill is a business attracting more than 20,000 visitors a month already and all it wants to do is set up a tearoom that will accommodate 18 customers who are already there.
‘The argument that the proposal will put sufficient extra strain on local parking to be rejected seems like an odd one to me.
‘Everyone knows that the mill can’t provide these spaces on site and I’m very much hoping that the highways department will think again and use some common sense.’
The mill, built in 1820 using timbers from the captured American frigate USS Chesapeake, opened in its current form in 2004.