A BREWING company has submitted plans to turn part of a farm in East Cholderton into a microbrewery and tasting room, sparking criticism from village residents.

Breach Farm Brewing Ltd. has lodged a planning application with Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC), requesting to change use of a “redundant” annex to “light industrial use” for the purpose of the new business.

The application submitted states that the owner is refurbishing the annex as a matter of “routine maintenance” which the company claims is unrelated to the proposed use.

The company was granted a premises license in October, which allows it to produce and sell alcohol on the site.

TVBC received 29 letters in support of the licensing application, as well as 36 against.

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Chris Davies, who lives at neighbouring Haydown Lodge, is one of the residents who spoke out in opposition of the license being granted last year.

The 57-year-old is now determined to make his voice heard ahead of any decision being made on change of use.

Chris feels the plans are “fundamentally going to change the character of the place”, but the brewery owners insist it’s “small scale”.

Haydown Farm hosts four public walkways.

Haydown Farm hosts four public walkways.

Chris, who has lived with his wife Amanda in the area for nearly 20 years, and at Haydown Lodge for nearly ten years, said: “We have three villages under one parish council. Amport and Moxton have really got behind it, have said it’s a good idea to open a brewery - in the other village!

“I think we had one or two properties in the village who were in favour of the premises license, but the vast majority are against.”

“For some people it may be a case of ‘So what? Who really cares?’ Some will call it nimbyism.

“But what about when these things are on your doorstep. Nimbyism a term used when you aren’t actually the person affected.”

Chris firstly raised concerns about the wording of the most recent application, which requests permission to use the store for a “microbrewery”, when previous plans listed a “nanobrewery”.

The father-of-two said: “We have a couple of different things going on, and some quite clever planning applications. “TVBC’s licensing committee has granted a premises license to a premises that does not even exist! It beggars belief that any planning authority can license premises that do not actually physically exist. If it doesn’t exist, what is it that they have actually licensed? Is it the entirety of the farm?”

He continued: “The proof of the pudding will be found out over time. They have painted a quaint picturesque persona of a nano-brewery and tasting room, for the refreshment of wandering ramblers around the hills and fields of Hampshire. Well, now the planning application is for a microbrewery, which can produce up to 5,000 hectolitres annually. The developers will say it is not their intention to be that big, but that’s the capacity.”

However, his main main issue is with the potential impact on the environment around his beloved home, which is nearly 300 years old.

As well as a cluster of rural properties, the proposed site is very close to Elmstead Park, a site of approximately 40 static caravans, as well as on the the grounds of a working farm and surrounded by fields of livestock.

“From a purely logistics point of view, we are going to have everyone who has not been to the site before driving along a private road, a footpath,” said Chris.

He added: “The grain store is by a converging point of four footpaths, as well as a working farm.

“One of the things I have spoken to is that this is a dangerous place. There is heavy machinery. What you are doing is taking the second most dangerous industrial environment in the UK, and introducing alcohol, super-strength beer.“Let’s call it what it is, opening a pub on a farm is a potentially dangerous thing to do.”

Chris and Amanda feel the plans would “fundamentally going to change the character of the place”.

Chris continued: “The whole appeal of the place is that we can step out and go for a nice uninterrupted walk. I don’t want to be on pub CCTV, going for a stroll!”

He added that the area has two other pubs, but used to have two more which have shut down in recent years.

“If you take trade away from them as well, sure that’s counterintuitive,” he said.

“I am giving my opinion, but there are other issues which have been raised including disruption to wildlife, and being in the flightpath of the Hawk Conservancy Trust show. Whether it would have an impact on those things or not, I do not know.”#

Intended location of grain store annex.

Intended location of grain store annex.

Chris also voiced concerns regarding the drainage capability of the site.

“It takes approximately a gallon of fresh water to make a pint of beer - where is that going to go? This site will look like some kind of water feature!”

Chris said he felt the decision was already something of a done deal, but was determined to make sure he had his voice ahead of a decision from TVBC on February 17.

“All the equipment to brew is already up there. We feel as though they are treating this as a fait accompli,” he said.

Addressing the concerns raised, Tim Hartigan of Breach Farm Brewing told the Advertiser it is “definitely a nanobrewery”.

He said: “We will encourage customers to walk and cycle to the brewery and most customers will arrive that way. For those that choose to drive, the track is nice and easily negotiable and there is ample parking out of harms way.

“Supplies will come no more than one time each week and will be mostly in transit vans with one or two deliveries each month by small, rigid box lorry. We will operate very limited hours.”

He clarified that the business would only open Thursday 4-8pm, Friday 4-9pm, Saturday 12-9pm, and Sunday 1-6pm.

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His business partner Bob Hamer added that, far from the 5,000 hectolitres which concerned Chris, “Breach Farm Brewing will produce a maximum of only 300 hectolitres per year”.

He continued: “The loosening of beer ties and the reduction of beer duty for small brewers has encouraged and promoted the concept of much smaller, more local brewing enterprises, such as Breach Farm Brewing. Meanwhile many pubs have closed, and more will.

“Breach Farm Brewing will be totally focused on quality, will think local and act local.”

The application will be considered by TVBC on February 17, and can be viewed by searching reference 21/03726/CLPN at https://view-applications.testvalley.gov.uk/online-applications.

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