A DERELICT row of shops – known as the Squirrels – in Brockenhurst is set to be demolished, with a new café and four holiday lets to be built in its place.
Members of the national park authority’s planning committee approved the application from Farooq Ahmed, who bought the properties known as The Squirrels in Lyndhurst Road in 2014 with the ambition of turning it in to a family business.
Documents submitted to the NPA on the applicant’s behalf said: “The proposed replacement building is a robust response and offers an opportunity to revitalise this site with a building that will make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the conservation area and improve the setting of the nearby listed buildings.
“The proposed building is of attractive traditional design and has taken its design cues from vernacular buildings found in and around Brockenhurst and has a traditional shop frontage. The building will enhance the street scene and Brockenhurst Conservation Area.”
The application also includes the creation of a basement for storage, four parking spaces and a cycle store, as well as a small outdoor seating area.
The holiday lets, which will be accessed by external stairs, will each have a double bedroom and en suite bathroom.
An NPA-compiled report, recommending it be approved, said: “The deterioration of the buildings has taken place over a significant length of time and more recently the current owner has ensured the structures remain weather tight. Therefore, there is no sign of deliberate neglect.
“The low quality of the structures in their current form and the fact that any proposal to retain them would involve extensive replacement of the original fabric provides sufficient justification for their demolition. Subject to ensuring an appropriate scheme for their replacement, the loss of these buildings would not have a harmful impact upon the character and appearance of the conservation area.”
The application received 23 objections from members of the public, who raised concerns about overlooking, loss of light and the additional pressure on parking and congestion locally.
Brockenhurst Parish Council also objected to the application amid worry over existing parking issues and the overdevelopment of the site.
However, members voted seven to three in favour of the plans. NPA member Sue Bennison said: “I think the design is very nice and in keeping. The applicant is very brave to do this at this time and I wish him well.”
Planning committee member Ann Sevier agreed and added: “This will at some point need to be redeveloped. I think it is very suitable.”