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Letter: Missed opportunity to provide Lymington a town centre with heart

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SIR – New Forest District Council is missing a rare opportunity to provide what Lymington sorely lacks: a town “centre” with heart, attractive to residents and visitors alike, where people can meet, socialise and enjoy the view; an area sufficiently large and open for events and exhibitions to be staged.

Quay Hill, Lymington’s most popular “must visit” area, currently opens abruptly into the quayside, a car park dominated by an unattractive toilet block. Visitors by boat, who might reasonably expect to moor-up in a picturesque working harbour, have their cockpit view obstructed by this dominant, ugly building.

The quayside, from which Lymington grew to its current size, should logically be our town centre, but is at present totally unsuited to this role. The toilet block is wrongly sited, much too big and incompatible architecturally with its surroundings. And use of the area as a car park limits the space available for other purposes.

An artist's impression of the current design for the scheme by Snug Architects
An artist's impression of the current design for the scheme by Snug Architects

Under pressure from the harbour commissioners, NFDC is proposing to replace the toilet block with a new building that will also be wrongly sited, much too big and incompatible with its surroundings. The commissioners' argue that the proposed quayside redevelopment will help to generate additional boat tourism for Lymington and offer facilities comparing favourably with other Solent harbours.

What nonsense: the additional walk ashore berths have already achieved any growth potential and replacing the toilet block in its current position will, if anything, have an adverse effect. And what a limited aspiration!

Public consultations regarding the proposed development have focused exclusively on replacing the toilet block, rather than how the quayside might be redeveloped. Restricting the scope of the consultation process in this way has enabled NFDC planners to claim support for replacing the toilet block in its current position. No surprise – if it is the only option on the table, who would object to replacing the existing facility? But letters in the A&T and many of the public responses to the planning application have rightly drawn attention to the need to redevelop the entire quayside area.

This will inevitably cause delays but with so much to gain, why the rush?

Visitors and residents will happily wait to walk down Quay Hill to a vibrant, new town centre. And visiting yachties will happily wait to moor-up to a quayside they can admire from their cockpits, their view unhindered by an ugly, obtrusive new toilet block.

NFDC should withdraw the current planning application and start afresh, with a more visionary approach, initially by commissioning market research to find out what people and businesses want on the quayside.

And then they should deliver it, to enhance our town, increase civic pride and grow tourism by road, rail and river.

Bill Basham,


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