Developer to fight council over refusal of police station flats plan

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An artist’s impression of how the Hythe police station flats plan would look

A DEVELOPER has challenged the refusal of its plans to build a block of retirement flats – which were previously likened to a prison – on the site of a disused police station.

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McCarthy & Stone is seeking permission for a three and four-storey, square-angled building at Jones Lane – which is just outside the Hythe conservation area. It would feature 35 flats.

However, when the plan went before New Forest District Council last July, it came under sustained attack and was rejected unanimously by the 18-strong planning committee.

One member, Cllr Alan Glass, even compared it a “prison” and said future residents “should not be sentenced to live out their remaining years in such an ugly building”.

This week, the developer confirmed it had submitted an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate and insisted its plan would benefit the district.

Regional managing director Shane Paull told the A&T: “We believe that our proposals present the opportunity to sensitively redevelop this brownfield site with specialist retirement accommodation.

“These plans will not only improve choice for the local community but will also help to free up homes for families and first-time buyers further along the housing chain.”

He said the original decision had “disappointed” the company, but stressed it remained “committed” to providing “age-exclusive housing” at the ex-police station location.

Mr Paull continued: “New Forest District Council currently has a growing need for retirement accommodation, and it is anticipated that there will be a need for a further 2,100 sheltered accommodation dwellings up to 2036.

“Communities must meet the needs of older people and we believe that by refusing the application, New Forest District Council are not addressing these needs.

“Indeed, the council has to date only delivered approximately 35% of its identified total housing need and this lack of provision adversely impacts all sectors of the community.”

When the plan was first unveiled, it attracted 96 responses. Of those 75 were against, 19 were supportive and the other two neutral.

There was also criticism from Hythe and Dibden Parish Council that the architecture was “industrial” and “dominant”.

NFDC said it did not wish to comment on the McCarthy & Stone challenge.

A final decision will be made by a government planning inspector at a hearing, the date of which it yet to be decided. Written representations must be submitted online or sent to the Planning Inspectorate at Bristol no later than 3rd April.

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