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Call for Hampshire police and crime commissioner Donna Jones to stop sale of former Lymington police station to Churchill Retirement Living

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A CIVIC group has called on Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) to stop the sale of the former Lymington police station to a retirement developer.

Churchill Retirement Living is seeking permission to replace the Southampton Road facility with 32 retirement apartments but the plans have met huge opposition, including a petition against signed by more than 1,000 people.

The developer was refused the plans by New Forest District Council’s planning committee but appealed, and the matter went before a government inspector at a recent inquiry. A decision is yet to be reached.

Lymington police station
Lymington police station

Now the Lymington Society has called on PCC Donna Jones, to “take the wishes of the wider community into account” in a strongly worded letter noting there has been “a great deal of community disquiet about the proposed plans”.

Highlighting Lymington and Pennington Town Council is also opposed, the letter stated that “the town neither needs nor wants further intensive elderly person accommodation development, when the urgent need is for homes for younger people, families and in particular affordable housing”.

It continued: “The purpose of this letter is to ask you as custodian of this public asset to take into account the wishes of the community and to require any purchaser or development partner for this site to prioritise the delivery of family and affordable housing.

“As the policing authority, we are sure you will agree that this would also result in wider social and community benefits.

Hampshire PCC Donna Jones
Hampshire PCC Donna Jones

“We appreciate you will wish to maximise the receipt for the asset, but you also have a responsibility to the community you serve, and their wishes are clear.”

The letter being made public follows the A&T revealing how the former Hythe police station was similarly at the centre of rival plans from NFDC for affordable housing and McCarthy and Stone for retirement flats.

Donald Mackenzie, chair of the Lymington Society, said: “The proposal to bring yet more retirement homes to Lymington, when the town already has a much greater share of the district’s retirement homes than other towns and also has a large number of vacant flats, many of which have been empty for years, is totally unreasonable.

Donald Mackenzie, chair of the Lymington Society
Donald Mackenzie, chair of the Lymington Society

“The financial muscle power of retirement developers, such as Churchill, and their favourable treatment in terms of not having to provide affordable homes on the site, gives them a huge advantage over conventional housing providers meaning that they are always likely to outbid other developers.

“This is leading to a totally unbalanced supply of new homes in the town, creating an older and older population in the town which is then used to justify more retirement homes.

“The society hope that Hampshire police will take notice of local opinion and seek to support the local community rather than sell to the highest bidder.”

The PCC’s office said it could not respond before the A&T went to press.

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