A BID to demolish a home in an exclusive Barton road to make way for four houses was narrowly thrown out by district councillors amid claims an access dispute could spark legal action.
AJ Developments wanted to demolish Brockwood, at 42 Barton Common Lane, to build a set of three-bedroom properties with garages and parking.
However, when the plan went before New Forest District Council’s planning committee, members heard objections from New Milton Town Council.
Cllr Keith Craze said the town council was adamant the access route to the site comprised a gravel track crossing part of the Barton Common beauty sport, which the council maintains.
The council had a legal duty to look after common land it owns, he said, and it was an offence to drive across it without the landowner’s permission.
Cllr Craze said the town council was “unlikely” to give the developer access permission and any attempt to do so could be seen as “trespass”. The town council may also pursue “civil legal action”, he warned.
There were 10 objectors to the scheme, including New Milton Residents’ Association. It said developers’ vehicles would damage the site during construction, and the plans were “over-development”.
The association added: “This is a particularly important area of New Milton adjacent as it is to a Site of Special Scientific Interest and, as such, the character and environmental issues must continue to be secured – to retain the character of the area.”
The committee was told the plans featured only “minor amendments” from a previously refused proposal which had later failed at appeal amid concerns over harm to local biodiversity.
However, the meeting heard an ecological report had since been produced by the applicant, and the committee was recommended to approve it by NFDC officers.
Speaking for the developer, planning agent Dan Wilden highlighted how the appeal inspector had said the previous scheme was acceptable in terms of its likely effect on the character of the area and local highways.
However, members of the committee said they were sympathetic to the town council’s position and the objections raised.
Eventually they decided by eight votes to seven, with one abstention, to refuse the plan.