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Plans for mental health unit and private home agreed by national park authority for former B&B in Lyndhurst, Little Hayes

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PLANS to turn a former B&B in Lyndhurst into a home for people with mental illness have been thrown into doubt amid competing proposals winning the green light.

National charity Hammersley Homes sparked objections with its application for Little Hayes at 43 Romsey Road, with neighbours demanding more detail about the operation.

The national park authority has now approved the plan – but simultaneously gave permission for the current owner, Mr Rydzynski, to turn the seven-bedroom property into a private home.

The B&B is currently on the market (picture: Google)
The B&B is currently on the market (picture: Google)

The decisions were taken at a meeting of the NPA’s planning committee, where Hammersley chair of trustees Louise Hallettt sought to quash rumours that the house could be used to accommodate criminals or drug addicts.

She said: “They are vulnerable people who live with long-term mental health challenges, who struggle with independent living.

“Many people [with mental illness] live with their families until middle age, family lives dominated by these mental illnesses and the worry about who will care for and support their loved ones when they are no longer able to.

“The answer is we will and that’s the purpose of our project.”

It would become a long-term home for five people, explained Ms Hallett, and there were no plans to use it as a day centre, despite this previously being stated on the Hammersley website.

However, the charity does not yet own the building and is currently attempting to raise £300,000 for a deposit on the property, with just over £50,000 donated so far.

Speaking against the application, neighbour Gail Jones said Little Hayes was a viable B&B which until last autumn was fully booked.

She continued: “Guests were quiet and vacated the house during the day. With five residents, carers and support staff, there will be an increase in intensity of noise and disruption to our lives.”

Committee members heard that although planning policy sought to retain existing tourism facilities, there were around 170 Airbnb properties listed in Lyndhurst, so preventing the loss of the guest house could not be justified.

NPA member David Harrison said: “There is certainly a desperate need for facilities that enable people who have suffered from acute mental illness to live in society and I think it’s to our great credit that increasingly we are not locking people away and putting them in straitjackets and padded cells, but instead giving them a chance to live something of a normal life.”

Ann Sevier concurred: “I understand that it’s important that people can come and have holidays here. But I feel it’s very good that local people have somewhere to live who have problems and difficulties in life.”

Richard Clewer said: “I absolutely laud the aims of the charity but I don’t think it is relevant. The relevant thing to me is whether the loss of this tourist facility is something we should be resisting, and the advice from our officers is that’s not supportable.”

“We can’t resist this – Airbnb has done for guest houses.”

After a committee debate both applications for change of use were agreed.

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