Councillors sink New Forest Water Park’s bid to expand clubhouse

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New Forest Water Park in North Gorley near Fordingbridge

A BID to extend the clubhouse at New Forest Water Park was sunk by the district council’s planning committee – with one member branding it “a joke”.

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Cllr Sue Bennison took aim at the proposal for the Ringwood Road facility by company director Mark Jury.

The site already hosts bedrooms, offices and living facilities, and the extra space would allow for a lounge, meeting room, more offices, a kitchen and storeroom.

The plan for the clubhouse, to the west of the middle of the three Hucklestone Lakes, was a revised bid from an earlier rejected plan. That sought permission to update the building and provide accommodation for the site’s fishery manager, but was refused and later turned down on appeal.

Three members of the committee argued it should go against officers’ recommendation to reject the latest proposals.

Cllr Maureen Holding said the “exception” was justified because it concerned a local business that was “a great asset to tourism”.

“The [Jury family] have worked so hard,” she said. “They want to stay together and work together, and in this day and age that’s fantastic.”

She also pointed out the application was being supported by Fordingbridge Town Council.

But Cllr Bennison fired back, referring to the fact that such a development would contravene countryside policy because of the 60% increase in the building’s floorspace.

“Are we consistently going to flout our policies?” she questioned. “This policy is meant to stop buildings in the countryside being enlarged and enlarged and enlarged.”

She noted plans for on-site residential accommodation for Mr Jury and his dependents had been previously approved. But he did not live in it, Cllr Bennison said, and it had been converted for alternate uses. His now adult children were employed in the business but living elsewhere on the site.

Pointing out caretaker and maintenance staff also lived there, she added: “There is more than enough people living on the site as regards to security. I‘m sorry, it’s a joke.”

Her criticism was echoed by Cllr Anne Sevier, who recognised it was a “successful” business but said its viability did not depend on it being granted more space.

Members voted 16-3 to endorse the recommendation by NFDC officer Stephen Belli that the plan be refused because it was not connected to the business and flouted policy. There were also concerns over the design of the building.

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