PLANS for 79 homes on the site of the derelict Lyndhurst Park Hotel have met with a mixed response – but the verderers have warned of “deleterious” effects on the Forest if they get the go-ahead.
Christchurch-based Hoburne Developments bought the property, parts of which were designed by Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, from retirement housebuilder PegasusLife after it made a number of failed attempts to win permission for flats.
The application for six houses and 73 flats, with 115 parking spaces, has now been submitted to the national park authority, and has attracted 40 responses, of which 14 are against and 16 are in support.
The verderers are vehemently opposed to the proposals, along with the Ancient Monuments Society and around a dozen neighbouring residents.
“The verderers do not usually comment on planning applications, but they make exceptions where they believe development will have a direct and deleterious effect on New Forest grazing and the SSSI,” said Official Verderer Lord Manners.
“The verderers are of the view that the development will have a significant, detrimental and cumulative effect on the Forest environment, particularly at Bolton’s Bench because it is already heavily used.”
Concerns over litter, dog fouling, attacks by dogs on livestock, verge parking, off route cycling and wear and tear caused by increased footfall are all cited.
The verderers say they want to see fewer units, increased parking, an onsite children’s play area and more green space, along with restrictions on keeping dogs.
Ross Anthony, of the Ancient Monuments Society, also raised strong objections to the application, which involves retaining part of the existing building that has started to fall down in places.
“The proposal seeks to not only demolish the later extensions to the hotel, but also about a third of the historic Conan Doyle building,” he said. “The local plan explicitly states the historic portion should be retained and restored.”
The society is also opposed to the number of units proposed for the site, citing New Forest District Council’s Local Plan which sets out a limit of 50 dwellings.
Residents have also criticised what they see as overdevelopment of the site, with one neighbour likening it to an “urban development” being squeezed into a “rural site between valuable trees which understandably cannot be cut down”.
Others slammed the application’s lack of provision for affordable homes.
Many residents, however, welcomed the plans, arguing the development and proposed construction of three commercial units along the High Street would enhance the entrance to the village.
Miss Hollis, of Foldsgate Close, said: “I fully support something happening with this building. Lyndhurst is a gorgeous place but currently this hotel is an eye sore.
“Having more businesses and housing that is not just for the elderly would be really beneficial to Lyndhurst keeping a thriving high street.”
Mr Barwell, of Romsey Road, said: “A nicely done design, sensibly proportioned and with sympathetic use of original parts of the hotel.
“It would have been seen nice to have seen more emphasis on holiday/tourist features, but good to see some additional modern retail that will most likely help drive life into that end of the high street.”
Hoburne states in its application that the scheme has been “carefully conceived to provide a clear enhancement” to the character of the conservation area.
It adds: “A good relationship with neighbouring properties would be maintained and an excellent living environment would be provided for future residents.”
The deadline for comments was yesterday (Thursday) and the NPA is due to make its decision soon.