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Council rejects New Forest Water Park's 'excessive' clubhouse plan

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New Forest Water Park in North Gorley near Fordingbridge
New Forest Water Park in North Gorley near Fordingbridge

PROPOSALS for a larger clubhouse at New Forest Water Park have been thrown out after councillors agreed it would harm the lakeside setting.

The North Gorley facility’s managing director, Mark Jury, wanted permission to erect a building alongside one of three lakes at the site, despite approval being given in 2011 for a single-storey development adjacent to the same lake, known as middle lake.

Following this approval, a subsequent plan was submitted and refused on the grounds the two-storey building would be larger than that previously approved, and would be imposing in an isolated, rural location.

An appeal was subsequently lodged and dismissed by an inspector, who said he had no objection to the principle of a building, but ruled there was insufficient justification for such a large amount of caretaker accommodation.

This latest plan for the same site went before New Forest District Council’s planning committee meeting, with a recommendation by officers to refuse.

In a report, they said the difference in size between the proposed clubhouse and the one previously refused was minimal, and that the visual impact would be the same.

The report continued: “The council maintains its position that the earlier approved site was preferable in that it was better grouped with the existing car park and had a much lesser impact on this part of the lake shore in both visual and character terms.”

Officers also pointed out there was an existing clubhouse alongside the northern lake that provides accommodation for the site owner, and a residential caravan that does not have planning permission to be there. The new clubhouse would, as well as accommodate a caretaker, “serve the recreational needs of fishermen”.

Cllr Alan Penson told the committee meeting he could not see a problem with the new proposal.

“I note the town council has recommended permission on the basis it will improve security and establish a successful business and I don’t see much wrong with that.

“I can’t understand why you would propose to build if there wasn’t a need – I can’t see an alternative motive; it’s an expensive building.”

The majority of councillors, however, deemed the proposal excessive, taking into consideration the clubhouse already there and the previously approved plan.

Cllr Allan Glass said: “I can’t see the need. This is not an agricultural site and the place only operates half the year. Most water parks don’t have a resident manager – why clutter up the Forest with unnecessary buildings?”

Cllr Ann Sevier added that most fishing lakes did not have a residential facility on-site.

Councillors voted 14 to two against the application, with one abstention.

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