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Build family homes not 'copycat' retirement flats, urges town conservation group

The new design for the Stanford Hill site was for 45 flats instead of 50
The new design for the Stanford Hill site was for 45 flats instead of 50

A SITE where 45 retirement flats are proposed close to the centre of Lymington would be better off with affordable homes, the town’s conservation group has urged.

The Lymington Society has spoken out against Renaissance Retirement’s scheme in Stanford Hill, which would replace a row of four properties on the eastern side of the road, just south of the junction with Highfield.

The civic group said that, if approved by New Forest District Council, the scheme will “increase the pressure on the green arteries” into the town, spark “copycat” bids, and goes against planning guidelines meant to protect the look of the area.

As reported in the A&T, initial plans for 50 flats were scaled back by the developer which handed in formal proposals to New Forest District Council for 45, with 34 parking spaces.

Society spokesperson Don Mackenzie said: “Lymington is very fortunate that it has a beautiful Georgian centre which visitors approach along mostly pleasant tree-lined approach roads, with family homes in good sized plots, rather than the massed block of flats that have become the norm in many towns.

“The society strongly feels that defending this feature, which have been called the ‘green arteries’ of the town, is key to helping to maintain one of the important features which define the town.”

Stanford Hill in Lymington
Stanford Hill in Lymington

He also pointed to initial planning officers’ advice expressing “strong concern” about the potential impact of the development on nearby designated heritage buildings.

A dozen objections from residents have also been lodged with NFDC criticising the scheme as "overdevelopment" and also calling for family homes.

Mr Mackenzie added: “We will be making strong representations to the NFDC planners that to give permission to this enormous block of flats will fatally undermine the local distinctiveness provisions and lead to copycat developments that will quickly overwhelm the town with similar schemes.

“We will also be making the point that we do not need, and do not want, ever more retirement schemes which threaten to radically alter the balance of the population of the town and put huge strain on the medical and support services as more and more retired people move to the area.

“It is a great shame that developers choose to build these types of schemes rather than apartments or starter homes for families and young people who would help to bring a balanced population to the town.”

Renaissance’s plan argued there was a “critical need” for homes for older people and pointed to NFDC’s own forecast that the number of people aged 65 and over outside the national park is to increase by 13,200 (40%) between 2016 and 2036.

When it was submitted, Simon McFarlane, head of planning at Renaissance, told the A&T: “We’ve taken on board comments received from neighbours and the council, and worked hard to make a series of amendments which we feel helps deliver a high-quality specialist housing development.”

He added that according to NFDC’s planning policies there was a need for 2,000 extra specialist older people’s homes.

The application said: “This scheme would deliver sustainable development through economic, social and environmental benefits.

“The use of the site for housing for older people is wholly appropriate at this location and the design of the proposal will make a positive contribution to the appearance of the site that will respect and enhance the character of the area.”

NFDC is scheduled to decide on the proposals by 24th December after the deadline for public comments on 10th November.

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