OPINION seems to be split on the £700,000 proposals to revamp Lymington Town Quay as residents have until Monday to submit their views.
The plans, which include a choice of two possible designs for a bigger toilet block, were presented at the start of the week and will be on display at the St Barbe museum for the next three days.
The main change is to demolish the 20-year-old toilet block and replace it with a structure nearly 25% bigger, either with a flat roof viewing platform or a more traditional pitched roof.
The project would also cut the number of short-stay parking bays north of the toilet block from 30 to 18 to create more space beside the sea wall.
“It could be a lot better; it could be a lot worse,” was the response from a resident living near Town Quay, who asked not to be named.
He said: “I liked the flat-roof job over the pitched roof – that looked awful. Apart from that it looks alright. There’s changes I would like to see: less long term and more short-term parking so you keep life in the quay.
“It’s going in the right direction, but I would like to see more trees. I would like to see 10 planted in front of the block – we should be leading the way.”
Despite favouring the flat-roof design, he predicted trouble there in the evenings would inevitably lead to a gate being installed to shut it off at night.
As revealed in the A&T, the new proposals come from landowner New Forest District Council, the harbour commissioners and Lymington and Pennington Town Council, which are each contributing to the budget.
About 150 people attended the presentations by Paul Bulkeley, from Snug Architects, at Lymington Community Centre on Monday, according to an NFDC spokesperson.
The new block would contain eight toilet cubicles on the south side and eight showers on the other for sailors using the harbour commissioners’ new pontoons.
The 24 long-stay parking bays to the south would remain, and a more clearly defined pavement created along the car park side of Quay Road.
NFDC chief executive Bob Jackson said: “We heard a number of varied and divided opinions around car parking and the balance between the economic benefits of visitor attractions and the needs of local residents.
“What was positive from the event is that there is an understanding from everyone that we cannot meet everybody’s different aspirations.
“I believe we and our partners now have a way forward that best balances all views and we eagerly await the outcome of this latest stage of consultation that will enable us to develop our plans for a planning application.”
Civic group the Lymington Society welcomed the investment and backed the flat-roof design for improving river views.
But spokesperson Donald Mackenzie said that failing to re-orientate the block and not deleting more parking spaces meant “an opportunity has been missed to create a much improved and exciting public space”, similar to a continental-style piazza.
He added: “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.”
Richard Nowell, who runs Lighthouse Marketing, applauded the idea of an “events space”, but likened the overall plans to the “Emperor’s new clothes” with debate limited to whether the toilet and shower block had either a pithed or flat roof.
But Cllr Alison Hoare, NFDC’s cabinet member for environment and regulatory services, NFDC said the presentation had created a “level of excitement”.
She added: “I am pleased with the level of engagement and the positive approach that everyone in attendance contributed in their questions to achieve improved facilities at the quay.”
The deadline for comments is midday on Monday 20th January. The next step is for a final design to be chosen and submitted as a formal application to NFDC’s planning department, which will trigger a further six-week public consultation.
If approved, work will start in the autumn before a formal opening in the spring of 2021. To comment online go to www.newforest.gov.uk/LymQuay.
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