AN “eyesore” site in Brockenhurst will be transformed with a mix of homes and businesses despite concerns none will be affordable.
All buildings at the former Redmayne Engineering plot in Station Avenue – which has been vacant since the firm moved out six years ago after expansion plans were rejected – will be demolished under Sherlock Architecture’s bid after national park authority planning committee members gave the scheme the green light.
Proposals include nine two and three-bed houses, four ground floor office/retail units and five first floor office units, carports, parking and landscaping. But members heard there would be a shortfall of 15 parking spaces under a planned “flexible” parking arrangement for future employees and residents, and no onsite affordable/social housing. The applicant will instead make a £300,000 contribution for local provision elsewhere.
A previously approved scheme in 2014 for a cycle hire workshop and retail units never came to fruition, and plans submitted the following year for sheltered housing were rejected, the meeting on Tuesday heard.
NPA planning officer David Williams said: “The existing building has been subject to vandalism and disrepair and is coming to the end of its life. There is little value in its existing form.
“It’s been vacant for the best part of six years. It’s become an eyesore and is not delivering employment after the previous occupants relocated to the edge of Lymington.
“The mix of uses in the proposal represents the best way forward. It’s a very sustainable site in the centre of the national park.”
The parish council supported the bid, with its planning committee chairman John Korbey stating the authority did not want to see any more vacant units in the village attracting vandals.
But criticising the lack of affordable housing and parking in the plans, Maureen Holding said: “One of the biggest stumbling blocks at this site over the years has been the entrance to the train station which pedestrians and cars use – now there are more trains and people yet we are putting
something there which will increase that.
“We need affordable homes in Brockenhurst – I have families knocking on my door saying they have nowhere to live. People who are doing ordinary jobs that we all need have no hope.”
She continued: “We have empty shops and offices, yet we are putting more there – people need more affordable houses. We are totally ignoring it.
“We have urbanised Brockenhurst by degrees – it was a beautiful village but is now becoming an urban conurbation. It’s not acceptable.”
During debate NPA member Richard Clewer backed concerns about the parking arrangement and lack of affordable housing. “Affordable housing could be built there – there are rural housing associations who would love to be building in the village,” he said. “I can’t support.”
But proposing approval, Richard Frampton said the developer had wholly fulfilled its requirement with regards to affordable homes provision with its £300,000 contribution.
“I’m heartened to hear this application has been subject to pre-application advice, which we always promote,” he said. “We could build two affordable homes with the developers’ contribution and I think we’ll make better use of it than the developer would because they have to put their fees on it and we don’t.”
He said he had concerns about parking, but given the site’s proximity to the train station and village centre he was happy to run with it.
George Bisson agreed, saying: “We should support the parish council on this, it’s a good scheme.”
The plans were voted through by nine members in favour and three against.