A RETIREMENT developer has lost a second bid to build flats on one of the gateway roads into Lymington amid warnings the town could become a “retirement area for the south coast”.
Pegasus Life had hoped to demolish a row of four homes in Stanford Hill and build 44 retirement apartments, after adapting previous plans for 45 dwellings which were also thrown out by New Forest District Council in December last year.
Speaking civic group the Lymington Society, Donald Mackenzie declared to councillors that there was “no real need for this type of development in Lymington”.
He warned that if approved the scheme would “drive a coach and horses” through local distinctiveness guidance, and “inevitably lead to blocks of flats creeping up along all the major routes into the Georgian town centre”.
Planning officer Stephen Belli acknowledged that although the new plans had gone some way to address the previous reasons for refusal, the scheme for 29 two-bedroom and 15 one-bedroom, would still be unsympathetic and out of keeping next to the town’s conservation area.
Mr Belli told the meeting that the lack any affordable housing was also a negative issue in terms of sustainable development.
But speaking on behalf of Pegasus Life, planning agent Kate Holdon said suggestions the development was unsustainable were “wholly unfounded”.
She said: “This is a brown field site in a central location with excellent access on foot to a range of facilities in Lymington.”
She said changes had been made to the scale and mass of the buildings to address previous concerns.
However, the changes had not been enough to convince Lymington and Pennington Town Council and 21 residents who lodged objections.
Speaking for the town council, Cllr Andy Ash-Vie said: “Simply put, we really recommend refusal – it will have a massive impact on the town’s character. It’s out of keeping, it’s not needed, we just could not disagree with this proposal further.”
Debating the application, Cllr Sue Bennison said the development was “akin to a small village”.
She continued: “For me, I would like to have seen some gaps in the development – it is a long amount of brick all along the road frontage and I am concerned about how far it extends back into the site.”
Cllr Mahmoud Kangarani feared it was the sort of development which would encourage people to retired to the New Forest from outside the area, putting further pressure on hospitals and social services.
Recommending refusal, Cllr Anne Corbridge said: “If we are going to have more and more old people in the town, we actually need affordable homes to allow those people to live.”
Cllr Barry Dunning claimed there were already “many, many” empty retirement homes in the town. He declared: “We do not need any more – we need affordable homes for the staff who care for the elderly residents of our area.
“The impact on the town will be huge. We do not want to become a retirement area for the south coast.”
The planning committee voted unanimously to refuse the scheme.
Speaking afterwards Lymington Society spokesperson Mr Mackenzie said: “The society hopes that the emphatic rejection of this scheme by the NFDC will lead to a major rethink by developers of this type of housing in Lymington and that they will now look elsewhere in the future.”