A MILFORD hotel has scrapped plans to build an extension on its roof – proposing instead a bigger, ground-floor expansion to secure its survival.
Owners of the South Lawn Hotel, Tim and Nikki Wedgwood, have blamed the coronavirus pandemic in submitting new plans for a 24-bedroom expansion – which would almost double the size of the Lymington Road facility – to New Forest District Council.
That replaces another proposal already greenlit by NFDC to extend the 26-bedroom facility by 18 rooms on a new second floor. It was approved in October 2019 but they have ultimately decided it was not the right scheme to take forward.
Latest planning documents submitted to NFDC claim the 18-room scheme would be “too expensive and too complex and long-winded” to construct for the hotel to be remain financially viable.
The 24-room expansion would allow the business to remain trading while the “essential and much needed works” are completed for a “much lower cost and in a shorter period of time”.
The architect behind the latest plans, Richard Greenwood of Benchmark Development Planning, told the A&T: “The complexities and challenges posed by the rooftop bedroom development have been further exasperated by the significant negative effects of the pandemic.
“The cumulative effect is that the hotel still has to be improved to stay competitive and the owners must address the shortfall of accommodation.”
In pre-application discussions the Wedgwoods suggested an alternate of turning the site into 38 specialist accommodation flats and assisted living units.
But NFDC officers noted letters of support for the business – including from Go New Forest – and considered retaining the hotel was “preferable” as it would “not adversely impact” the character of the existing building or wider setting, public highway safety, ecology or heritage.
NFDC will make the final decision. Comments can be submitted until 23rd March.