PLANS to demolish a former youth club building in Lyndhurst and replace it with electric car charging points have been criticised by villagers.
New Forest District Council installed the pre-fabricated building in the car park off the High Street in 1987 for use as a tourist information centre.
After the information centre moved to the then New Forest Museum, the building was subsequently used for storage and most recently leased to Lyndhurst Baptist Church at a peppercorn rent for use as a youth club. This closed in April 2017 and the building has remained empty.
NFDC has now applied to the national park authority for permission to demolish it and install four electric vehicle charging points in its place, for public use.
The application stated that the building is unable to be let out as it does not meet energy efficient standards.
It is also nearing the end of its expected 40-year lifespan and therefore would not be cost-effective to invest publicly funded capital expenditure to improve the energy performance.
The reports added: “As the [nearby] community centre provides a purpose-built local community facility, the proposed demolition of the adjacent hut is not considered to have an adverse impact through the loss of this former facility, which has not been in operation for three years.
“The vacant site is attracting trespassers, rodents and litter/flytipping to the rear of the property. The dilapidated building has a detrimental visual impact on the entrance of the car park which is used by residents and tourists visiting the New Forest.”
The application has attracted three letters of objection from locals. One wrote: “While the village needs electric car charging points, this is not the only place they could be located.
“Greater consideration and consultation should be given to other uses which would support community needs, such as disabled toilets or youth facilities.
“It has become particularly evident under lockdown that young people have suffered disproportionately, and we are setting ourselves up for future problems if we ignore their needs.”
Another added: “This building if necessary should be demolished and rebuilt or refurbished to provide a multi-functional space for tourist information and a youth club, something the village had in the past but no longer has and is sorely lacking.”
A third objector urged: “For once think of the younger people.”
The public consultation period has ended and the NPA is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks.