A busy post office which serves a "honey pot" Lake District town could be demolished to make way for a new outdoor sports shop, it has emerged.

Outdoor sports and clothing company Gaynor Sports has lodged a planning application with the Lake District National Park Authority to completely demolish the town's post office and attached redundant sorting office in Market Place to make way for a new shop.

The application has sparked fears within the community that Ambleside could lose its only post office for good if the proposals win approval from planners.

Gaynor Sports which owns the building and has rented it out to postmaster Robin Love for around four years wants to build a new shop and training offices in a redevelopment that would create 15 new jobs.

It already has a shop opposite Market Cross, which it unsuccessfully attempted to carry out improvements to last year after its proposals were rebuffed by the LDNPA.

Although Post Office Ltd said that it was committed to finding the post office a new home if the building was demolished, community and business leaders told the Gazette the pledge was "easier said than done".

Chairman of Ambleside Chamber of Trade Paul Tetley said the commercial popularity of Ambleside meant that few suitable business premises became available in the town centre a location that would be essential for a post office that has been described as the hub of the town for businesses and residents alike.

He said the chamber of trade would be opposing any plans that did not include the retention of the post office and argued that Ambleside sarcastically dubbed by some as the Anorak capital of Britain' already had enough clothing retail outlets.

He added that the loss of the "vitally important" post office would deal a massive blow to the town's high elderly population, local traders and many of the thousands of tourists who visited throughout the year, "If the development went ahead it would be a nail in the coffin for Ambleside, the town would not be able to continue as it is without a post office," said Mr Tetley, who runs Middletons of Ambleside Ltd, in Compston Road.

Mr Tetley added the post office tenants had learned of the plans after reading a leaflet pinned to a lamppost stating that a "major redevelopment" was planned for the site.

Suspicions had already arisen over the future of the post office earlier this year when two BT phone boxes were removed from outside the front of the post office, he added.

Nick Martin, who owns JF Martins and Co Ltd and is a Lakes Parish Council representative for Ambleside, added that finding a suitable new home for the post office would be hugely problematic and there was no potential to create a new building in the town centre.

Paul Gaynor, owner of Gaynor Sports, declined to comment on the application when contacted by the Gazette.

The intentions of the company, established more than 30 years ago, was evident in the planning application submission prepared on behalf of Gaynor Sports by Kendal-based Ted Fletcher Architects.

Mr Fletcher writes that Gaynor Sports would be investing heavily to undertake a "vibrant scheme for regenerating this drab and lifeless site" which dates back to the 1950s.

He also says that a new shop would help shift the focus of retail to an area of the town centre that is mostly served by local independent traders.

"This can only be of benefit to the whole community," he writes.

The application is due to go before the LDNPA's development and control committee on January 6.

Members of the public have until December 15 to lodge their comments about the plans, which are available for public inspection at the LDNPA's headquarters at Murley Moss Business Village, Kendal.