New Forest District Council leader Cllr Edward Heron to meet Hampshire police and crime commissioner Donna Jones for talks over the former Hythe police station site
A FORMER police station in Hythe is at the centre of a struggle between New Forest District Council and a retirement developer.
NFDC wants to use the site in Jones Lane, which has lain empty since 2017, for affordable housing but is up against the financial muscle of McCarthy & Stone, which is also eyeing the land, owned by Hampshire Constabulary.
As reported in the A&T, since 2018 McCarthy & Stone has had two attempts to develop the plot with retirement flats rejected by NFDC planners and on appeals – with one version likened to a prison.
And according to police and crime commissioner (PCC) Donna Jones, the firm is still interested in building there – despite announcing last year it was dropping it.
But now NFDC Conservative leader Cllr Edward Heron is set to meet with Mrs Jones to discuss buying the site to provide cheaper homes for local people.
PCC Donna Jones told the A&T: "Having sites like this sat vacant for long periods of time is far from ideal. It is not good for the local area, and that is a concern to me.
"It is frustrating that not one but two applications have failed to get the support of NFDC's local planning committee.
"In an ideal scenario the council and the developer would work together to iron out issues in advance of the planning committee meeting to ensure a reuse of the site as quickly as possible so as not to blight the local area.
"My office have done all they can to be patient and give both the council and the developer the time they need to agree a scheme."
She added: "I am considering all options for the site but can confirm that McCarthy & Stone are still interested in the site and I am still willing to sell it.”
At the latest full council meeting, Liberal Democrat Cllr Stephanie Osbourne questioned NFDC's cabinet member for housing, Cllr Jill Cleary, about the possibility of affordable housing there.
Cllr Cleary said the council had expressed interest in developing various sites which included Jones Lane, but it had not come to an agreement with the PCC.
A spokesperson for NFDC said "conversations regarding the land at the former Hythe police station site" were "ongoing".
She stressed: "The planning authority seek to work proactively with developers and land owners to deliver sustainable development across the district.
"To date it has not been possible to agree a scheme for this site. It is important that brownfield sites are redeveloped to provide much needed homes within the district.
"The planning authority will continue to work with the land owner to agree an acceptable form of development for this site."