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Redrow Homes sparks anger with bid to delete New Forest District Council order it build art gallery and commercial units at Lymington Shores development

DEVELOPER Redrow Homes has sparked outrage by trying to backtrack on more promises it made to enhance a flagship Lymington estate.

It is seeking permission from New Forest District Council to delete planning conditions attached to the Lymington Shores scheme that compel it to build an art gallery, restaurant and commercial units.

Instead it is suggesting those currently empty spaces be filled with nine self-contained flats – comprising one three-bed, six two-beds and two one-beds – as well as car parking spaces.

Redrow said there was a lack of interest in the empty units at Lymington Shores
Redrow said there was a lack of interest in the empty units at Lymington Shores

The ploy comes in the wake of Redrow battling to delete another agreement it made to build a £1m link bridge to the adjacent Lymington train station. It has suggested an alternative package with a host of minor highway measures, such as dropped kerbs and installing tactile paving around the town.

But the plan has been resisted by NFDC – prompting the developer to launch an appeal.

A spokesman for Redrow said the latest move was due to a lack of interest in the empty units, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the viability of commercial property.

“These non-residential units have been marketed for a considerable period of time without any credible interest,” he told the A&T.

“Following the Covid-19 pandemic, which has sadly negatively impacted many retail and leisure businesses, we do not see this situation changing and consider that an application to convert these units to new homes is the most appropriate way forward to bring about the completion of the overall development.”

The proposed rail bridge at Lymington Shores
The proposed rail bridge at Lymington Shores

As for the train bridge link appeal, the spokesman added: “If this appeal is successful, Redrow will move quickly to complete the sale of the remaining 17 homes forming part of the original development.”

When permission was granted for a 168-home development on the former Webb’s chicken factory site in 2012, NFDC attached a host of conditions.

Included within those was a restriction on how many properties it can occupy until the bridge is built; currently 17 stand empty and cannot be filled until the bridge is built or that condition is deleted.

Redrow has come in for criticism from Lymington councillors in the past; Lymington county councillor Barry Dunning even went so far as to suggest that if the bridge link was not built Redrow’s reputation would be “tarnished” locally and planning committees will take this into consideration should it propose other projects.

NFDC had also said the success of the potential galleries and commercial units at the site could depend on the bridge being constructed.

Donald Mackenzie from The Lymington Society
Donald Mackenzie from The Lymington Society

Conservation group The Lymington Society has also been critical – and its spokesman, Donald Mackenzie, hit out again this week.

The society was “totally opposed”, he said, adding: “Whilst appreciating that the commercial environment at the moment has been difficult through the pandemic, there is every sign that the commercial life of the country is coming back to life.

“Therefore, the society does not accept that these units could not find some appropriate use which would benefit the community by being retained for some commercial use or by involving community organisations which would benefit from being able to use these premises.”

He added: “Having secured an extremely valuable planning permission for this large development on the basis that the community would gain an attractive destination area connected to the railway which could have brought customers to a lively new commercial area, the company now wishes to walk away from all these commitments to the community in a way that many people will think is extremely unfair.”

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