Councillors fear allowing a change of use for a tattoo studio will lead to the loss of a prime retail site.

A request for a change of use of a High Street shop premises to allow it to be used as a tattoo studio came before Fordingbridge Town Council’s planning committee last week.

The building was previously a stationers and later a furniture shop. An application for change of use for 23 High Street has been put forward to New Forest District Council (NFDC) by Lovingink Tattoos.

Councillor Edward Hale said there was an objection submitted by a member of the public who felt it was a prime site that should be kept as shops to attract visitors.

Councillor Paul Anstey said he believed there was a requirement to retain a certain percentage of A1 classed shops. He said there had previously been a change of use for a tattoo studio in the town, which had been deemed acceptable because at the time it wasn’t being used at all. However, he added: “But how far do you go down swapping out all your A1 shops that you are duty bound to maintain in a high street and swap them out with not an A1?”

Councillor Diane Paton said: “It is a shame if we lose them but I don’t want empty shops either.”

Cllr Hale added he was concerned about the prominence of the proposed tattoo studio.

He said: “My concern would be it has got big windows whereas the other tattoo studio was just a single window. This is a much more prominent shop. “I am concerned they are going to be blanking off the windows. I can’t see they are just going to be open.”

He said there were other empty shops that the studio could go in which did not have big windows that would not have “such an impact on our high street”.

Councillor Anna Wilson agreed that the change would affect the feel of the high street. She said: “It would have a big impact on the high street. It changes its character.”

Councillors voted to object to the application due to the loss of an A1 commercial property in a prime shopping area. NFDC will make the final decision on the application.