Lymington police station retirement flats plan set for approval as NFDC officers give it the green light
CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 32 retirement flats on the site of Lymington’s former police station have been recommended for approval by New Forest District Council officers.
The application by Churchill Retirement Living for the plot in Southampton Road will go before the next planning committee meeting on Wednesday.
Councillors will be advised to okay it despite vehement opposition from local residents, the town council and conservation group the Lymington Society.
In a report to the committee, officers highlighted the area’s “ageing population” and a “demonstrably pressing need for additional specialist housing for older people in the area”.
This need was made all the more urgent given the council being “unable to demonstrate a five-year housing supply”, it stated.
As reported by the A&T, 76 letters objecting to the scheme were received by the authority, alongside a petition signed by more than 1,400 who emphasised a “desperate need” for affordable homes for young people rather than more retirement properties.
Residents raised concerns over the scale and character of the development and its impact on trees and neighbouring homes, highway safety and the architectural merit of the existing building.
However, officers argued that the scale and design of the scheme was “appropriate” and comparable to nearby properties like Buckland House.
The distance between the proposed building and surrounding homes was “sufficient that no undue overlooking would result”, they said.
While it was accepted the police station building was a non-designated heritage asset and its loss would be “regrettable”, officers said the benefits of the proposed development outweighed any harm.
Two groups of trees on the site are subject to preservation orders, the report noted, and objections have been raised by the council’s tree officer.
However, it was concluded by officers the apartments can be built “without affecting the viability of the existing protected trees that are scheduled for retention”.
The plans have also sparked a backlash from the town council whose planning committee chair, Cllr Andy Ash-Vie, said: “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.”
The Lymington Society has added its voice to the campaign, saying there was an overprovision of retirement housing countered with a “very serious” lack of affordable homes in the town.
NFDC’s planning committee will make a final decision at its meeting on Wednesday 13th October at 9am.