PLANNERS are set to decide on a planning battle over the future of a timber business at a site in a village near Alresford.

Mr and Mrs J Gibbs want to demolish the buildings at Totford Saw Mill, on Basingstoke Road, Northington, and build a four-bedroom detached house.

The proposal has a lot of local support but the city council planning officers are recommending refusal, saying there is no justification for a new dwelling in the countryside.

The matter will come to committee on Tuesday June 2, a meeting which is being held 'virtually' with councillors accessing it from their homes.

The site is currently being used in connection with the applicant’s ground working business. There is a sawmill, pole barn, Nissen hut, three containers and a portacabin on site.

In 2010 there was a similar plan to demolish the sawmill and build a house but it was refused and also rejected on appeal.

Northington Parish Council has no objection to application and there have been nine letters of support, with several saying it remove a 'nuisance use' and bring young family back into the area.

The applicant has submitted a viability report which states that the site cannot reasonably be used for an expansion of the existing business. But the council says there is no evidence that the site has been marketed for its current use.

A report to the planning committee says: "The existing use of the site as a sawmill has been long established and is considered to form part of the local landscape. The current buildings are rural in appearance and are not considered to detract from the Upper Itchen Valley Landscape Area or from views along or enjoyment of the Wayfarers Walk public footpath.

"The proposed introduction of a new dwelling within this location is considered to detract

from the rural nature of views throughout the area by introducing a building which is clearly

domestic in its appearance.

"The proposed development is contrary to the Development Plan as it would result in a new

dwelling within the countryside for which there is no over-riding justification."