CELEBRITY chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is closing his River Cottage Kitchen restaurant in Winchester due to “unprecedented challenges from Covid-19”.

The restaurant in Abbey Mill Gardens shut in March following the Government lockdown and now it has been revealed that it will not reopen.

It is believed the restaurant had been struggling before the health crisis.

Cllr Kelsie Learney, cabinet member for housing and asset management, said: “We are sorry River Cottage are leaving Winchester but not surprised as they were finding trading difficult even before COVID-19.

"The historic Abbey Mill building is a stunning site in the centre of the city and we are confident that it will be back in use before too long.”

Paul Spencer, managing director of Winchester BID, told the Chronicle: "This is very sad news indeed and particularly for the staff affected by the closure. This is an exceptionally difficult time for many businesses which is why we must all do what we can to support our local businesses.

"We are working on our latest quarterly Business Barometer Survey over the next few weeks which will gather vital intelligence on current and future trading outlooks and will help us to better understand trends, compare our progress with similar destinations and understand how businesses in Winchester are coping as lockdown measures are further eased."

A notice on the eatery’s website says: “We all face unprecedented challenges from Covid-19 and with a heavy heart, we have made the very difficult and sad decision that River Cottage Kitchen in Winchester will be closing permanently.”