A group of high street businesses have launched a petition against a supermarket’s decision to emphasise its free parking restrictions.

Business owners in Harrow Weald are disappointed that Waitrose, in High Road, is adding additional signs to highlight the two-hour free parking limit.

They believe this will have a negative impact on their companies as many of their customers make use of the supermarket car park.

Charlotte Lathbury, of Joseph Hair Salon, said the lack of other viable parking options in the area means many people will be put off visiting the area.

She said: “We believe this restriction will negatively impact the high street greatly.

“It is difficult enough to successfully run a high street business, and people do not need another reason not to visit us.

“Many of the services we offer – such as hairdressing, veterinary or dentistry – take longer than two hours, and, if there is nowhere for people to park, the likelihood of them continuing to support us will decrease rapidly.”

She accused Waitrose of “trying to gain a monopoly of customers” and believes the decision will also impact on their business, given that, in her view, many high street shoppers take the opportunity to visit the shop when they would not ordinarily.

“For a company who claims to promote fairness and community, they have turned a blind eye to how their actions here will affect our community,” she added.

But Waitrose explained that the two-hour limit has always been in place, it is simply making it clearer for shoppers.

A spokesman for the company said it has a good relationship with neighbouring businesses and contacted all of them – sometimes face-to-face – to outline the developments.

He said: “We’ve always had a free two-hour time limit on our car park.

“We’ve simply installed further signage to make this clear because some users have been exceeding the time limit meaning it’s often difficult for our customers to find spaces.

“This means we can continue to look after our customers, while still providing free parking for other shoppers visiting the area.”

Ms Lathbury said she and her fellow business-owners would continue to object against the proposals.

They have started a petition, which has already gained hundreds of signatures, contacted local politicians and written to Waitrose’s managing director to voice their concerns.

“We are a small but busy high street and are prepared to fight this decision at every turn in order to protect our customers and businesses,” she said.

“We are lucky to have strong relationships between local business owners and our local residents, and we would very much like to continue in this vein.”

Cllr Stephen Greek, who represents Harrow Weald ward, said he hopes to see the issue resolved for the benefit of the area.

He said: “It is ultimately up to Waitrose to decide how to manage its own car park.

“However, I hope they will keep the time limit under review, as it is in everyone’s interests to ensure a thriving local high road in Harrow Weald.”