The owners of two Barnstaple tanning salons fear their businesses could go under if an application for a new town centre studio is approved.

A planning application has been submitted to transform the town's former Post Office in Boutport Street into a Consol tanning studio, adding to the chain's 40 branches across the South West, South and Midlands.

The tanning studio will have 14 sunbeds, will be open from 7am until 10pm every day and will employ one full time and one part time member of staff.

However, local business owners Leanne Shurety and Sue Chugg have warned they 'stand to lose everything' if the company moves in, and say it could lead to eight job losses between their two salons.

Leanne, who owns Perfect Tans in Queen Street, and Sue, who runs Aurora Tans in Market Street, said they are fighting the application 'tooth and nail'.

Perfect Tans in Queen Street, Barnstaple.Perfect Tans in Queen Street, Barnstaple.

Leanne said: "We are independent, local businesses. We are not massive national companies that can just pop up and move in anywhere.

"This shop is 200 metres away from both of our businesses - it is absolute nonsense.

"It's not just a business for us. This is our livelihoods, it's our way of life.

"We put our all into these businesses and we care about our customers and give them care and attention.

Aurora Tans in Market Street, Barnstaple.Aurora Tans in Market Street, Barnstaple.

"If this national chain comes in it will close us down and on a personal level we stand to lose everything."

Leanne and Sue hope the application will be called in to North Devon Council's planning committee.

Barnstaple Town Council has recommended refusal of the application, highlighting the potential loss of local businesses.

Sue added: "I don't see why they need to come to a small town. Our customers come in for a chat, and we take our time to talk to them. It's a personal touch and I am not sure national chains will have that.

The former Post Office in Boutport Street. Picture: Andy KeebleThe former Post Office in Boutport Street. Picture: Andy Keeble

"It was just a shock. It was last thing you expect for the old Post Office to be turned into.

"You have all these things you expect, whether it's a charity shop, a café - but I never expected something like this.

"It's not going to bring anyone extra into the town and I don't see how it will benefit the town."

Applicant Consul South West said the proposal would add to the 'character, vibrancy and vitality' of the town centre.

A design and access statement for the application said: "There is no doubt that this proposal will have a positive visual impact and it is considered also that this will create increased footfall not only though the normal working hours, but into the proposed extended evening hours when the tanning salon is at its busiest.

"Whilst the approval of this application will lead to the loss of an existing A1 use, it must be noted that this unit has now been vacant for over a year and so contributes little in a positive way to the street-scene.

"The proposal would therefore in our opinion from experience elsewhere, add to the character, vibrancy and vitality of the area."