Planners refuse ‘alien’ retirement flats at town centre gateway

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Renaissance Retirement
The submitted plan for the Stanford Hill site in Lymington was scaled back to 45 flats instead of a previous design for 50

A BID to build retirement flats at one of the gateways to Lymington town centre has been thrown out.

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The plan by Pegasus Life Group was to demolish a row of four homes in Stanford Hill and construct a block of 45 sheltered apartments up to four storeys high.

But the scheme has been refused by New Forest District Council planning officers who, in a 10-point rejection, criticised it as an “unsympathetic” design with “no significant social benefits”, which would harm the environment.

It said: “The proposed development results in an over-dominant massing dominating the site and proposes an alien-built form within this sensitive context.

“The proposal is a random collection of other building elements, applied incorrectly and without any thought to the overall appearance of the structure.”

Other issues included overlooking neighbours, lack of affordable housing contribution, and the impact on protected wildlife on the site.

The site in Stanford Hill in Lymington is just outside a conservation area

Pegasus had also not shown how it would make the development “nitrate neutral” in the wake of a legal ruling last year that now requires housing applications to mitigate the flow of the pollutant into protected habitats, such as the Solent.

According to an NFDC report, there was also concern from Hampshire County Council about a risk to highway safety from vehicles leaving the site. It was proposed to have 34 parking spaces but NFDC said there should be 45.

Further criticism came from Bournemouth and Christchurch NHS Trust which said it could not support the scheme because of the extra pressure new residents would add to its services.

The application, at the top of the hill just outside a conservation area, had been attacked as “overbearing” by the town council and sparked 15 letters against it, including from civic group the Lymington Society, including calls for affordable housing instead.

NFDC is in a stronger position to refuse the scheme because it is closer to adopting policies in its new draft Local Plan. Importantly, this sets out a five-year supply of housing land without which, decisions are made according to the government’s less stringent national planning rules.

Pegasus had previously defended the scheme saying it “responds well to the street scene”, was in line with national guidelines, and met the need for older people’s housing. It also said three new staff jobs would be created there.

As reported in the A&T, Pegasus had tried to win support by making changes to the initial design and reducing it from 50 flats to 45.

The refusal is the latest defeat for the company which last year sold the Lyndhurst Park Hotel to Highcliffe-based Hoburne Development after twice failing to win permission from the national park authority for 90 homes there.

In 2018 Pegasus, which is backed by powerful American private equity house Oaktree Capital Management, bought competing retirement developer Renaissance, based in Ringwood.

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