Lymington Town Council against Churchill Retirement Living's plan to tear down police station for retirement flats
PLANS to tear down Lymington’s former police station and build 32 retirement apartments have been unanimously opposed by town councillors.
In doing so, they cited more than 20 reasons why Churchill Retirement Living’s proposals for the Southampton Road building should be thrown out, including that the site should be redeveloped instead with “badly needed” housing for young people and working families.
Cllr Andy Ash-Vie, chairman of the council’s planning committee, noted: “So far in my time as the committee chairman I have not seen a development which has generated quite so much opposition, with nobody in favour of it at all.”
Churchill’s application proposes building 21 one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom flats, as well as communal facilities and 12 parking spaces.
It argues there is a “critical need” for the delivery of retirement housing in the country and a “significant pressing need” within the district boundary.
But it sparked a backlash and at Monday night’s town council meeting the New Forest West Labour group handed in a 1,400 name petition against it.
Cllr Barry Dunning – the town’s county councillor and an NFDC member – and conservation group The Lymington Society also spoke out.
“The real need in this area is for affordable housing for younger people who will provide the services to the older generation,” said Cllr Dunning.
In the debate, members vehemently opposed the move.
Cllr James Sutherland said his internet searches showed up to 67% of retirement accommodation already built in the town remained unsold.
Disagreeing with Churchill’s “critical need” claim, Lymington mayor Cllr James Hoare said: “What they are doing is confusing national policy with local requirement.”
However, Cllr Jacqui England expressed fears New Forest District Council could prove to be a “toothless tiger” when deciding the application.
She also raised concerns a government planning inspector could allow the scheme if it goes to appeal – as had happened with the recently approved plans for 40 units at Stanford Hill.
Cllr Alan Penson noted the Churchill plan may be accepted in spite of local feeling, so he outlined options available to the district council if it were approved; those included it pushing for Churchill to pay more towards affordable housing elsewhere.
In documents, Churchill cites a contribution of £434,000, but Cllr Penson said this figure should be increased to £1.264m.
They voted to oppose the plan on 21 different points, including it being overdevelopment and out of character, with insufficient parking and turning space. They also argued there may still be a convenant on the land, and that the development would overlook neighbouring properties.
The plan will now go before New Forest District Council’s planning committee.