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Call to save Lymington’s historic salt barns

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A CIVIC group has called for “urgent action” to protect the last surviving barns of the salt production era which helped establish Lymington as a thriving town.

The Lymington Society has suggested action is needed over the Grade II listed salt boiler buildings at Creek Cottage, Woodside.

Pointing to the recent collapse of part of Hurst Castle, near Milford, they want to prevent “further deterioration” of the 18th century structures and ensure they are “properly maintained for future generations”.

In a letter to the national park authority, which is in charge of planning for the area, deputy chair of the society Donald Mackenzie said members had “grave concerns” about the state of the buildings, which sit adjacent to the Dock Head inlet from the Solent.

Lymington salt barns (45964769)
Lymington salt barns (45964769)

“With the collapse of a large section of Hurst Castle recently, despite warnings from many organisations, we feel that we now need to again bring the seemingly deteriorating condition of these important listed barns to the attention of the NPA,” he stated.

“In addition, we would like to seek your assurance that these barns will now be properly inspected and that any remedial work needed will be arranged, either by agreement of the current owners or, if necessary, by enforcement to ensure that these listed buildings are not allowed to deteriorate any further.”

Mr Mackenzie said the society had been in contact with the NPA’s conservation officers seeking assurance the barns were being given “proper attention” by the authority.

“These are the last surviving buildings of what was once a huge and thriving salt producing trade which drove the development of the town of Lymington and surrounding areas,” he told the A&T. “This industry virtually created the town as an important settlement.”

The Lymington Society has requested the NPA carry out a full inspection of the barns and, if necessary, take enforcement action.

Lymington salt barns (picture: Donald McKenzie) (45964761)
Lymington salt barns (picture: Donald McKenzie) (45964761)

“We hope that despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic, the NPA will move quickly to establish the situation and to ensure that nothing like the Hurst Castle collapse can happen to these historic listed buildings,” Mr Mackenzie concluded.

A spokesperson for the NPA told the A&T that planning officers had contacted the barns’ owner – whose identity was not revealed.

“We are aware of the situation concerning the salt barns,” she said. “We haven’t looked at enforcement action at this stage as we firstly wanted to ascertain the position of the owner.”

The spokesperson confirmed it was the responsibility of the authority to monitor the condition of listed buildings within the New Forest national park.

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