Review of the Year 2016 – August – September


A MULTI-MILLION-POUND facelift is on the cards for the centre of Totton under an “ambitious” scheme being drawn up to redevelop the area around the town’s 1960s precinct.

The site’s new owner, which bought it last year for £5m, is in early-stage talks with council planners about expanding the faded shopping centre beyond its current footprint with new stores, homes and parking.

Landowner Grainrent Ltd, a subsidiary of Evolve Estates, said it could be three years until plans were ready. A short-term refurbishment will be carried out first, based on designs by the previous owner that were never carried out.

MAJOR plans have been unveiled to transform moorings and berths at Lymington’s Town Quay in a bid to attract more visiting sailors.

Draft designs produced by the harbour commissioners show extra walk-ashore pontoons, fewer mid-river moorings, and a series of facility improvements.

Although the total number of spaces will shrink from 177 to 149, the harbour commissioners say their scheme better meets demand for the type of berths the market now favours as well as enabling events and drawing more trade to the town.

THOUSANDS of people turned out for Pennington’s first donkey derby and dog show on Saturday.


Held on the common, it was organised by members of the residents’ association who were keen to start a new summer event now that Lymington Carnival no longer passes through the village.

Eric Light, one of the organisers, told the A&T they had had fantastic support from local residents, around 60 of whom responded to social media requests for volunteers and came along to help.

Estimating over 2,500 people attended, he said: “For the first event, it went very well. The feedback has all been very positive.”

Hugely contentious plans to build 12 designer beach huts for a TV programme have been dramatically abandoned.


Production company Plum Pictures made the shock announcement that it had terminated its agreement with Christchurch council over the beach huts plan after huge public opposition and mounting criticism.

The council had decided to scale down the proposals with the huts being for day use only rather than overnight stays and no toilet facilities.

In a statement, Channel 4 said: “Britain’s Best Beach Huts’ was pitched to Channel 4 as a joint venture between Christchurch Borough Council and Plum Pictures.

“Plum Pictures have this week informed us that – due to Christchurch Borough Council being unable to deliver the originally agreed use of the proposed site – they are, with regret, having to discontinue the project at that location.

When news of the pull-out spread, campaign group Friends of Highcliffe’s Beaches and Cliffs (FOHBAC) hastily arranged a celebration and champagne toast at the cliffs where the huts would have been built.

A much-loved art deco cinema in Fordingbridge that has fallen on hard times is set for a bright future after councillors approved a £1m ‘remake’.

The proposal for the Regent Cinema in Shaftesbury Street is to shrink the old 290-seat auditorium into a smaller, 30-seat film venue with a bar and terrace, and develop the rest of the space into eight flats.

The building first opened in 1933 and showed films for more than three decades before closing in 1965. It housed a pottery, before that too shut, and in 2012 was bought by Larasian, a local electronics company which wants to bring back the silver screen.

“I am really pleased”, company owner Brian Currie told the A&T. “Since I put in the application people have been so excited and every time I walk down the high street or go to the shops, people ask when it’s opening – so I’ve felt a bit of pressure. I am thrilled.”

A magnificent statue of the late Lord Montague has been unveiled at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.


Measuring six feet high, the effigy, which will have pride of place outside the entrance of the main vehicle display building, depicts the motoring pioneer in an old fashioned leather coat worn by many driving heroes of yesteryear, while resting his hand on a historic Dunlop Cord tyre.

The statue was commissioned by Beaulieu-based entrepreneur Paul Nicholas, who helped the current Lord Montague display it for the first time.

SKATEBOARD and scooter enthusiasts flocked from miles around for the official opening of Lymington ‘s £165,000 new skatepark.


The mayor, Cllr Barry Dunning, cut the ribbon to the refurbished facility at Woodside Gardens which has been overhauled in a joint effort led by the town council and a group of local skaters.

The opening event attracted around 50 youngsters to try out the new ramps, jumps and rails of the concrete structure which replaced a worn-out and dangerous metal-framed predecessor. “The last one was rubbish,” said 15-year-old Josh Hill, from New Milton. “This is actually decent, it’s good. it feels like a different country with the colour of the ramps!”

A cheeky request from a member of staff paid big dividends for New Milton Library when Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville agreed to hand over his family Lego collection to them.

The actor was a guest on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ back in February when he admitted he needed help sorting through his vast assortment of the plastic bricks.

Among the show’s audience was a member of staff from New Milton Library, who decided to get in touch and offer to simplify Mr Bonneville’s life by lightening his load.

On a private visit to New Milton he met staff and children who will be taking part in the library’s Construction Club, which runs fortnightly from September.

As an official heatwave alert was issued for the New Forest this week, Lymington’s sea water baths are set for a record-breaking season.

The lido in Bath Road attracted such huge crowds one day that people were turned away and a one-in, one-out policy was brought in for the queues at the gate.

It was a change from last week when the Grade II listed pool – which dates back to 1833 – had to close at midday because of the high winds affecting the giant inflatable obstacle course.

Hugh Ambrose, head of Lynx Sports Management, which runs the facility for the town council said: “We’re closing nearly every day when it’s hot and having to go one-in, one-out. I do not think that’s ever really happened before.”


THE Forestry Commission has announced a near total ban on fungi picking in the New Forest this autumn in response to growing concern they could be wiped out.

The new restrictions, which will cover the New Forest Crown and Site of Special Scientific Interest, follows a 2015 decision by the National Trust to outlaw the practice on the five New Forest commons it runs and manages within the national park.

Deputy surveyor Bruce Rothnie said: “We want people to get out into the Forest to enjoy the autumn spectacle of fungi, we just ask they don’t pick.”

Vandals have struck again in Lymington forcing the temporary closure of a £165,000 brand new skatepark after smashing up CCTV equipment and lighting a bonfire.

The area has suffered a spike in damage including new graffiti, scorch marks on new play equipment at Meadowlands Park in Lower Buckland Road, and the wrecking of a football dugout at Lymington sports ground.

One of a disappointed group of 11 to 12-year-olds who arrived at the skatepark to play on the ramps said: “It’s a bit annoying – why would you do that? What the hell’s the point?”

Town clerk Caroline Godfrey, said” I am absolutely dismayed. It’s been such a massive involvement by young people as well, and to have it trashed to this degree – it strikes at my heart.”

Replacing the electrics will cost the taxpayer £1,000 she said, and the incident has been reported to the police.

Team GB’s haul of six cycling golds at the Rio Olympics has sparked a chain reaction with a surge of bookings at the velodrome at Calshot Activity Centre.

The Hampshire County Council-owned facility has reported a rise of 68% in reservations between July and August, since Team GB won a total of 12 medals, with most introductory courses already full up until Christmas.

The Olympic effect has also been credited with the centre’s climbing wall getting busier after the sport was recently added to the list for Tokyo 2020.

A New Milton swimmer has triumphed by clinching a Paralympic gold medal and fulfilling a promise he had made to his father who died just a few weeks ago.

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Mikey Jones (22) powered to victory in the 400-metre S7 free-style event in Rio, beating his fellow Team GB athlete Jonathan Fox into second. He swam a personal best time of 4:45.78.

“I never imagined this, it was a great race,” Mickey said after his win. “It was another personal best so it’s phenomenal. I worked hard, moved to Manchester with the support of my parent and I’ve been trying to push on.

“My dad (Bernard) passed away with 58 days to go to Rio so that race was as much for him as me. It’s not been an easy build into the meet because of that. It was hard to take initially but he has supported me for all these years and he would have wanted me to have swum my best.”

In the run-up to the games, Mikey, who has cerebral palsy, promised he would carry poolside a lock of hair from Bernard in memory of him.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Alice Tai, who comes from Barton, took a bronze medal in the S10 100-metre backstroke event. She swum an excellent time of 1:09.39. The former Bournemouth Collegiate School pupil posted on her Facebook page: “Had such a great day and I still can’t quite believe it!”.

Alice, who started out with Christchurch Seagulls, has represented GB before at major international events and has world and European medals to her name. Born with two club feet, she had 14 operations by the time she was 12. The surgery fused her feet and ankles which have no movement.

Two benches at a revamped park in Whitefield Road, New Milton are to be painted gold in honour of the victorious Paralympic swimmers.

Emergency repairs to save the iconic bell tower overlooking Lymington High Street are set to land the community with a bill of £100,000.

The eight-sided cupola atop St Thomas Church, which is Grade II* listed, is famous as an architectural symbol of the town and appears in the emblems of several local groups.

Thought to have been built around 1742, the cupola houses a single bell which strikes the hour while further bells are situated in the tower below.

But it is currently shrouded in scaffolding since serious decay was discovered during a storm in 2013. A series of wooden sections had to be replaced to make it safe with further expensive specialist restoration needed later.

Hundreds of Hordle residents have marched across farmland earmarked for development in opposition to plans for more than 500 new homes in the village.

Around 250 people gathered in Woodcock Lane before making their way across one of three green belt sites allocated in New Forest District Council’s draft Local Plan.

Protest organiser, and founder of the Save Hordle’s Green Belt Facebook page, Claudia Bailey, told the A&T: “There was a really lovely atmosphere and a great sense of community. It felt very positive and it was wonderful that there were lots of children and families taking part.”

The march was in opposition to Hordle’s allocation of 530 homes in NFDC’s draft Local Plan, which sets out where development should take place over the next 20 years.

Meanwhile Ringwood Town Council has hit out at plans to build 1,280 new dwellings across three green belt locations: north and south of Moortown Lane, known as sites P1 and P2, and on another area to the east of Ringwood known as site Q, or Lymes Farm.

Outside of Ringwood to the north there is a fourth development area in the parish of Ellingham and Ibsley, site R, which could feature 130 homes.

A house was struck by lightning and thousands of homes and businesses were left without power as heavy thunderstorms battered the New Forest and Christchurch.

The turbulent weather, complete with torrential rain, brought the recent heatwave to an end.

Six fire crews rushed to a property in Cross Way in Christchurch which was directly hit by lightning around 2.15am causing flames and smoke to erupt from its roof. All the occupants, who had already been awake, were safely out of the building by the time fire-fighters arrived.

Another bolt of lightning struck part of an overhead network run by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, blacking out around 30,000 of its customers.