A PROPOSAL by an award-winning distillery to expand with a tasting area and shop in Longparish has been approved by the Test Valley Borough Council despite objections from the parish council.

River Test Distillery, located in Southside Road, Longparish, submitted a planning application to build a new purpose-built distillery and associated parking, but it faced objections from the parish council, which owns a village pub.

Speaking at the northern area planning committee, Longparish Parish Council chairman Peter Hull said it was a significant development in the countryside and contrary to the local plan.

He added: “It is a huge expansion on the existing enterprise with no supporting evidence to demonstrate long-term commercial viability. Contrary to the officers’ assessment, it has not demonstrated that a countryside location was essential.

READ MORE: River Test Distillery in Longparish to build new tasting area

“This would have a significant impact and an adverse effect on the highway. I have great support and respect for the applicant as he has worked hard for this business and he helped a lot with us for our community pub in Longparish.

“But the parish council is objecting to this plan.”

Alice Drew, an agent speaking on behalf of the applicant, addressed the concerns raised by the parish council and said the development would be beneficial for the village.

While debating, Cllr Jim Neal said he would support the plan and he is looking forward to visiting the distillery. 

“I don’t see any reason to reject this plan. I see the argument about developing the countryside. But they employ people from the village. People going there would probably pop into the two local pubs.”

Cllr Philip Lashbrook said: “There’s tremendous scope for adding to the economy of Test Valley. Distilleries are becoming a quite big thing, especially in this part of the world. I support anything that benefits our economy. I don’t see anything adverse in this application.”

The councillors unanimously voted in favour of approving the plans.

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River Test Distillery, founded in 2017, started as a small business operating from a converted garage.

The business has been supported by grants from both Test Valley Borough Council and the Loddon and Test Leader programme which has enabled it to establish as a business and grow over the last few years.

A start-up grant was given to the business by Test Valley Borough Council in 2018 and the business received £2,000 from Loddon and Test.

The River Test Distillery was named England’s best London dry gin at the World Gin Awards 2020, and also won gold and silver medals at San Francisco 2021, a distiller’s master medal from the Spirits Business awards. It was also selected as one of the three finalists for the Test Valley New Business of the Year Award in November 2021.