Victory in fight to stop Lee-on-the-Solent shops being turned into flats

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NEIGHBOURS are celebrating after a planning inspector threw out plans to turn two empty shops into apartments.

A construction firm wanted to turn the units in Portsmouth Road, Lee-on-the-Solent, into residential apartments.

But the planning application was turned down by Gosport Borough Council’s planning board.

The firm appealed to the government’s planning inspector but the appeal has now been thrown out.

As reported in The News, shopkeepers and people living nearby objected to the plans, arguing it would be a loss to the area.

One of those who objected is Andrew Mair, who lives nearby and says he would be interested in opening a shop there.

But the firm behind the plans to convert the building, Portsmouth-based PMC Construction and Development Services Ltd, says it has not yet had any concrete offers.

Mr Mair said: ‘I was elated when I heard the appeal had been lost.

‘There used to be a post office there and the shop owners knew everybody and it helped keep a bit of vibrancy in the area.

‘I’m very keen to do something there.

‘I think the local community would be over the moon to see them opened as shops again.’

Planning officers at Gosport’s council recommended the application be refused because the loss of retail space would harm other shops in the area.

They also said it would reduce services for people living nearby.

Considering the appeal last month, a government inspector decided the proposal would harm the area and upheld the council’s decision to refuse permission.

Stephen Cripps, the general manager at PMC, said: ‘We do sympathise with the residents and if the right business comes along we would look into it.

‘At the moment we’re paying rates on it so it’s in our interest to get someone in there.

‘We would be more than willing to let them.

‘What the use would be I don’t know. There is very little market for things like newsagents at the moment. We are open to suggestions.’