A planning inquiry has re-opened into a controversial plan to build homes on the Abbey Mill Industrial Estate in Bishop's Waltham.

Heavy goods and plant hire businesses based at the Station Road site say they will be forced out with nowhere to go if the scheme gets the go ahead.

Landowner James Duke and Son are appealing against Winchester City Council's decision to refuse permission for the site to be bulldozed, and a mixed housing and business development built in its place.

Last year planners insisted it was not feasible to have homes built alongside industrial premises.

The lengthy debate from the two sides forced the two-day inquiry in November to be adjourned until this week.

Richard Stubbs, a planning consultant representing workers at the Abbey Mill site, said none of the industrial units had been vacant over the last five years.

He said the "appalling design" of the plans would mean the units would only be suitable for business rather than industrial use.

And he outlined how fork lift trucks would have difficulty getting on to the premises and how deliveries of heavy goods machinery would be hampered by inadequate access.

"The intention is business rather than industrial use," said Mr Stubbs.

Jeremy Elsom, planning consultant for James, Duke and Son, said: "We consider that these units are practical otherwise we would not be planning them there."

Mr Elsom argued that the proposal fulfilled the criteria of the local plan which had earmarked the land for employment purposes.

Ray Wyer who has run RNM freight, for the last 14 years and employs eight people from the Bishop's Waltham area, said there were no other alternative sites in the locality for his business.

"This application has been hanging over us like a cloud for the last two years.

"It has been established that housing cannot work there."

James, Duke and Son want to demolish most of the buildings on the site and replace them with 30 houses and flats.

The inquiry is set to end today (Friday) and the inspector's decision will follow later in the year.