THESE are the designs being offered to Lymington residents for a major overhaul of the historic Town Quay, the A&T can exclusively reveal.
The proposals contain two different options for reconstructing the toilet block, plus plans to remove parking spaces to create a more vibrant, pedestrian-friendly area with room to host public events.
The designs will be presented to the public on Monday at the Lymington Community Centre when residents will be invited to vote on their preferred choice and give feedback – before the deadline for comments just a week later on the following Monday.
The scheme follows a previous version being dropped after failing to find agreement between New Forest District Council, which owns the site, and the harbour commissioners, town council and neighbours.
Now, after receiving about 800 consultation response from residents and businesses, the bodies are ready to unveil an agreed new version which they hope to open in the spring next year.
The project, worth up to £700,000, involves cutting the number of short-stay parking bays north of the toilet block from 30 to 18 to create more space beside the sea wall.
The 24 long-stay bays on the other side would remain, and a more clearly defined pavement created along the car park side of Quay Road to improve safety and stop cars reversing onto the sometimes crowded street.
However, the main change is to demolish the 20-year-old toilet block and replace it with a structure nearly 25% bigger.
It would contain eight toilet cubicles on the south side and, on the other, eight en suite-style showers for use by sailors moored at the harbour commissioners’ new pontoons.
The public is being offered a design choice between a traditional pitched roof and a second, contemporary version with a cantilevered flat-roof reached by stairs for visitors to enjoy river views and information boards.
Both would feature a mirrored-steel art installation on ground-level by the sea wall offering reflected glimpses of the scenery from different directions.
The overall aim is to create a more inviting space, less dominated by cars, with extra trees planted, glazing on the toilet block wall, and lights to illuminate the area during the evening. It could be used as an extension to the Saturday market or for special events.
A previous consultation showed keeping the toilets was a priority for residents, with a 50-50 split on whether to expand or reduce the parking.
Cllr Alison Hoare, NFDC’s cabinet member for environment and regulatory services, said: “Lymington and the quay are very important to the whole district and we are keen to see the public amenities on this site contribute to the vibrancy of the area.
“Local residents have seen the two proposals and are in overall support of what is planned and I myself am very excited by the possibilities this project now presents us.”
Lymington Harbour Commissioners had been hoping to have the showers in place this year to match the 46 new walk-ashore pontoon berths by the quay, and harbour master Ryan Willegers admitted the delay was a “disappointment”.
But he added: “Importantly, the new building will provide the higher standard of washroom facilities demanded by today’s yacht crews and will allow Lymington harbour to compete effectively with other Solent locations to attract visiting yacht business.”
The designs were welcomed by Lymington and Pennington Town Council, which had previously joined civic group the Lymington Society in calling for a new public space, similar to a European-style piazza.
A town council spokesperson said: “The proposed schemes enhance the area and create the opportunity for increased public open space, an important aspect identified within the results of the public consultation, as well as a significantly improved design of the toilet/washroom building.”
The first scheme had partly failed after Quay Road residents reacted angrily to the proposed realigning of the toilet block which would have confronted their homes with a row of toilet doors.
Civic group the Lymington Society has called for a larger square, like a continental-style piazza. It welcomed the new toilets, showers, and viewing platform option, but said “an opportunity has been missed” to re-site the block and delete more parking bays for a larger “vibrant public space”.
Spokesperson Donald Mackenzie said: “The society hopes that this scheme will be seen as just the first phase of a phased approach which will involve reducing the car parking and increasing the public realm to the benefit of not just visitors and yachtsmen, but local residents as well.”
Two one-hour public presentations will be held on Monday 13th January at 11am and 6pm at Lymington Community Centre in New Street.
Once the feedback is complete, the design will be chosen and a planning application will be considered by NFDC with a further six-week formal public consultation.
If all goes to plan, works will start in the autumn to avoid the summer tourist season, with the formal opening in the spring of 2021.