A department store's plans to build a dozen affordable homes in a quaint Hampshire village have been put on hold after concerns were raised about an increase in traffic.

John Lewis were planning to sell off land on Church Lane in Longstock so twelve affordable homes could be built.

They put forward the site in Spring 2021 but after "not insignificant" levels of opposition to the proposals, have now decided to pull out.

The department store chain now plan on finding a "viable alternative that would allow us to provide a similar scheme".

Ward councillor for Mid Test, Cllr Tony Ward, said he was "disappointed" with the news.

Speaking to The Advertiser, he said: "I went to a couple of public meetings. It was obvious that there were people in the community against it and quite a lot in support.

"My feeling was there was quite a lot of support.

"It looked an attractive scheme and I didn't see any major planning obstacles. It didn't look an impossible proposal at all.

"I would have thought a useful planning application could have been put together and I was certainly in support of what I saw."

John Lewis Partnership (JLP) announced in the summer that it wanted to address the national housing shortage by building 10,000 homes for rental over the coming years.

The Church Lane scheme was to support plans by Rural Homes England for affordable housing. But in a letter to Longstock Parish Council, Nigel Harris, JLP's senior real estate portfolio manager, said there was a "mixed response".

He added: "This is not a decision we have taken lightly and one that has been taken having considered the views of all parties. Whilst we appreciate there is support, and at a high level the surveys and data could be interpreted as such, there is a body of opposition for the development which is not insignificant.

"Community backing has always been a key measure for us and something we promised to adhere to given our heritage here and role within the village."

Parish council minutes also reveal public concerns with traffic volumes at the junction of Church Road.

JLP's roots in the area date back almost 100 years, to 1929, when John Spedan Lewis bought an estate in Leckford.

The proposals had gained support from MP Caroline Nokes, who wrote in May that affordable housing is "absolutely essential".

The Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North said: "One of the biggest challenges for young families and older residents looking to retire in this constituency is the lack of affordable village homes, that would enable them to stay within the same village they have lived and worked.

"I am very conscious that affordable housing schemes of the type outlined are absolutely essential to keep communities thriving and with a mix of young and older residents.

She added that the parish council "has worked incredibly hard" with English Rural Housing and the Leckford Estate to design a scheme "modest in scale but provides a good mix of properties".

Commenting on concerns over affordable housing in the village, Cllr Ward continued: "I don't think Longstock is uniquely in need of that, it is true of almost all rural villages.

"People are desperate to get into the countryside. Families that are growing up in the villages can't afford to stay there."