Traders hope for victory in shops battle

Councillor Luke Stubbs

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SHOPKEEPERS are hoping for a victory against plans to turn two empty shops into apartments.

The building is part of a small shopping parade in Portsmouth Road, Lee-on-the-Solent.

A construction firm submitted an application to Gosport Borough Council to change the use of the building from shops to apartments.

But shopkeepers and people living nearby started a campaign objecting to the plans.

They say it would be a loss to the area.

Now council planning officers have recommended the application be thrown out.

Shirley Knowles, who runs the nearby Top Knot hair salon, started a petition, which gathered around 90 signatures.

She said: ‘It has given me a little bit of hope that the planning department is recommending refusal of the plans.

‘I’m hoping the council will turn down the application to turn the building into flats.

‘I feel, and everybody that I have spoken to about it feels, that we need shops down here.

‘It’s important for them because many of them are elderly and need something close by.

‘What this row of shops needs is a little convenience store and I’m sure you would get one in there.’

Gosport’s council received 74 letters of objections over the plans.

Planning officers have recommended the application is turned down because the loss of retail space would harm other shops in the area.

They also said it would reduce services for the nearby community.

Nobody from the firm behind the plans, PMC Construction Ltd, was available for comment.

But in a statement submitted as part of their application, it said two property agents had struggled to find any tenants for the shops in three years.

The plans goes before the council on Tuesday.