PROPOSALS to replace a set of historic buildings in Brockenhurst with a café and holiday accommodation aimed at cyclists are being opposed by local groups and residents.
Farooq Ahmed is seeking consent from the national park authority to demolish the existing single-storey structures, known as The Squirrels, in Lyndhurst Road, with a two-storey development incorporating a shop and basement.
The Squirrels, which were built in the early 20th century and are clad in timber and corrugated iron, are a familiar feature at the southern entrance to the village.
They are considered by the NPA to be non-designated heritage assets and are described in the local conservation character appraisals as “an important and rare survival of small shops from this period and should be preserved”.
In 2018, permission to demolish them was refused because of their heritage value, and it was suggested it should be feasible to restore them.
However, this is disputed by D&J Arthur Architects, which drew up the latest proposals. The application said they were “not particularly good” examples of this type of corrugated building and their heritage interest was “fairly limited”.
Mr Farook said he bought the property with the intention of creating a family business which would be run by his wife Tracy and son Jai.
“We are not looking to ‘make a quick buck’ as some have suggested,” he continued.
“However, I am neither looking to invest in a scheme/business that doesn’t give a sensible financial return.
“The added win for everyone is to improve what is an eyesore as you enter the village.”
The target market would be students and holidaymakers on foot passing through the village,” he stated. “With regard to the holiday lets, these will be aimed at cyclists. When we advertise we will be clear in stating that car parking is extremely limited as I do not want issues with my neighbours.”
Parking was one of the reasons cited by the parish council in its objection to the scheme, which it also felt was overdevelopment of the plot. It further feared a negative impact on the street scene and nearby listed buildings.
The Friends of Brockenhurst have also voiced their opposition, saying more holiday flats “were not welcome” in the village and any that were allowed should have plenty of parking.
They added that a shop/café on the site was “not desirable”, particularly as existing outlets in Brockenhurst were suffering badly because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Several local residents have weighed in with objections, also about parking, as well as the size of the development, overlooking and traffic disruption during construction.
A decision is to be made by the NPA after the deadline for public comments on 8th July.