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O’Neill Homer planning director grilled over Lymington and Pennington Town Council’s draft neighbourhood plan

LYMINGTON’S draft neighbourhood plan has been criticised as “too timid” to meet the town’s future development needs.

More than 20 Lymington residents – including representatives from various town community groups – gave their views during an informal consultation at Lymington town hall this week.

There were also concerns shared about the plan doing little to prevent high street business sites from being converted into housing over the next decade.

Lymington High Street
Lymington High Street

The council’s current visions and objectives for the town for 2036 include minimising greenbelt construction by focusing on town centre development, introducing housing types for younger people and increasing the town’s leisure and cultural space.

The draft plan says the town should be “self-contained… to meet all its community health, education and recreational needs” and should “exploit its heritage, marine and tourism appeal”.

Representing planning consultancy O’Neill Homer, Leani Haim said the meeting followed an online survey of town residents, reviewing research work going back to 2016.

She said the neighbourhood plan will eventually feed into the district council’s development plan but is “limited” in terms of what it can recommend.

“It’s difficult for you (in Lymington) because you are surrounded by greenbelt and the sea, so there are some limitations in your planning,” Ms Haim added.

Lymington Society chair Don Mackenzie said the neighbourhood plan so far has been “consultant led and too timid (and) lacking in ambition”.

Don Mackenzie (left) and Lymington mayor Cllr Jack Davies
Don Mackenzie (left) and Lymington mayor Cllr Jack Davies

He added: “The vision of the plan seems quite limited and a lot of stuff (on the council questionnaire) hasn’t been updated in many years. It’s time to go back to put in some of those missing details.”

Town council clerk Louise Young said proposals related to education and community facilities have been updated, but any further delays to revisit old consultation work could push the publication of the plan back to 2026.

She added: “The whole point of this consultation is to make sure this is right for the community. Right now we still have the scope to set out where the plan can make a difference.”

Lymington Chamber of Commerce president Simon Thomas said the business community “doesn’t believe in some of these plans and the direction”, adding: “The draft plan talks about wanting a thriving community but there’s no detail about arriving at that. Talk of putting trees in the High Street will tick a box but it doesn’t help the business community.”

He added: “If you have a thriving high street, then nobody wants to turn it residential.

“I’m worried we’re going to end up with a high street filled with Airbnbs and trees – people riding up and down cycle paths with nowhere to go. I think in 10 years we could have a problem with that.”

Chairing the meeting, mayor Jack Davies assured Mr Thomas his concerns would be taken into account as the neighbourhood plan is being drafted.

Jack Davies is the new mayor of Lymington and Pennington Town Council (picture: Hannah Phillips)
Jack Davies is the new mayor of Lymington and Pennington Town Council (picture: Hannah Phillips)

The secretary of Pennington and Lymington Lanes Society (PALLS), Sue Potts, said the group has sent its manifesto to the council calling for a “lanes specific” policy for land east of Lower Pennington Lane that has been earmarked for development by the district council.

The society is calling for the adoption of a ‘safer lanes’ network to maintain ease of pedestrian and cycle access on this land.

Assuring Ms Potts her concerns would be put to the neighbourhood plan working group, Ms Haim said: “It’s up to you as a community to say how you would like to see that (safer lanes initiative) implemented.”

Residents are still able to give their feedback on the draft neighbourhood plan online or on paper forms available from the council offices. Consultation ends 29th October. Visit: lymingtonandpenningtonplan.org.uk

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