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Developer AJC Group reduces number of flats in fresh plans for Becton Centre site in Barton

Scaled down plans have been submitted to transform a former NHS site in Barton into 27 flats.

An initial application by Poole-based developer AJC Group for 31 properties at the now-vacant Becton Centre in The Fairway were thrown out by New Forest District Council in July.

Fresh plans have now been lodged for fewer flats on a “reduced footprint”, with an amended layout that sees an increased separation between the buildings and trees.

An artist's impression of how the Becton Centre site will look if new plans are approved
An artist's impression of how the Becton Centre site will look if new plans are approved

The developer says it has also taken a “more traditional design approach” and addressed concerns over a lack of parking provision with a “proportionate increase”.

Original plans for the site proved controversial, sparking 17 letters of objection from local residents and drawing criticism from New Milton mayor Cllr David Hawkins, who said the site would become a “hellhole” under the scheme.

Planning officers at NFDC cited a catalogue of reasons for refusing the application, including an “excessive” number of flats and impact on neighbours, existing protected trees and the character of the area.

David Cracklen, director of AJC Group, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the decision, but had “listened and taken on board the feedback from NFDC, stakeholders and residents and revised our plans, directly addressing the points raised.

The previous plans which were refused
The previous plans which were refused

“The New Forest has a significant shortfall in available housing land and the demand for homes is high.

“The Becton Centre is a derelict building on a brownfield site – often these vacant sites can be subject to vandalism and anti-social behaviour.”

He added: “Our plans offer the potential for replacement with a quality residential development that will not only create much needed new homes for local people but also complement and enhance this highly desirable seaside location.

“We are confident our revised plans mitigate previous concerns raised, and that this is a viable new development opportunity that can only bring benefit to the local area.”

The Becton Centre building in Barton could make way for flats
The Becton Centre building in Barton could make way for flats

Under the revised proposals, several of the apartments will benefit from private balconies, while communal landscaped gardens to the rear of the building would be accessible by all future residents.

The homes will be split across two-and-a-half storeys and incorporate 40 parking spaces for residents and visitors. There has also been space allocated for residents’ cycles and visitor cycle spaces, along with electric car charging points.

One of the criticisms levelled at the proposed development by officers was the impacts on trees. They said it was likely that future occupants of the flats would push for on-site trees to be either removed or significantly cut back.

AJC now says the scheme ensures a bigger distance between buildings and existing trees, and pledged additional tree planting and “ecological enhancements delivering at least a 10% biodiversity net gain”.

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