CELEBRITY chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has cleared the final hurdle in his effort to set up a Hampshire restaurant.

Winchester residents had been considering a legal challenge after planners had approved changing the use of the historic Abbey Mill from office use to a restaurant.

But now the plan for a judicial review by Colebrook Street residents has been dropped because of the expense – meaning the chef’s firm River Cottage can press ahead with its plans.

Resident Guy Ashton, of Colebrook Street, said: “I am not prepared to risk the significant expense required to take this further, and remain disappointed by the council’s lack of willingness to engage with residents with anything other than belligerence.

“It has felt like we are dealing with a council that sees local residents as an enemy to whom no quarter can ever be given.”

Mr Ashton, who works for Deutsche Bank, said he sent a letter to the council outlining points he felt could be considered in a judicial review but that the council “refuted each point” in its reply.

He added: “Now that it’s all done, I look forward to River Cottage as a neighbour, and wish them every success in their venture. But I will always feel that the city council has handled the whole matter in a needlessly brutal fashion, leaving me and many of my neighbours feeling bruised and alienated.”

A council planning committee made the decision in June, and also approved structural improvements to the site.

River Cottage will take on a 15-year lease once the repairs are complete.