Lymington Society position on the Proposed improvement of the Lymington Town Quay area

The Lymington Society has followed the debate concerning the proposed scheme to improve the Lymington Town Quay, since the Harbour Commissioners raised the need for improved shower and toilet facilities on the Quay to accompany their proposal for new and enhanced “walk-ashore” moorings, which the Society had previously supported. These new moorings should enable Lymington to compete with other harbours locally, such as Yarmouth, and bring more visitors directly into the heart of the town, benefitting local business and bringing more vitality to the area.

However, the Society has always hoped that any proposals for the Quay should not be simply a short term fix for the shower and toilet facilities but should take the opportunity to bring much needed improvements to the Quay as a whole. Following much delay and some recent consultation with residents on the Quay, the NFDC has now decided that their recent proposals for the Quay will now not be going ahead and that a wide ranging consultation process will now take place.

Speaking after the announcement of a full consultation exercise by the NFDC, Society Press Spokesman Don Mackenzie said:

There can be no doubt that the Quay as it currently laid out is in urgent need of improvement. The use of the area as mainly a car park seems a terrible waste for an area that should be the focal point for visitors for the town with a pleasant public space at its heart.

 An attractive public space where events related to the river and the sea could be held, such as classic boat regattas or old gaffer rallies – which have been so successful in Yarmouth, would in the Society’s view be a much better use of the space than as a car park.

 It now appears that due to continued behind the scene debates between the various parties to the scheme as to the best way forward, the previously very tight schedule to complete any new facilities in time is no longer feasible. The NFDC have now decided to call a halt to the current proposals, which had only been shown to a few residents on the Quay and to go back to the drawing board with a full consultation exercise involving a wide range of interested parties.

 The Society had previously written to the NFDC criticising the apparent secrecy of their proposals and the Society is glad that a proper consultation process for this important part of the town is now to be carried out. It is surely a matter of regret that the authorities had not shown more determination to get this scheme agreed and implemented, in time for the new moorings coming on stream in early 2020.

 However, it is in the Society’s view far better to delay and get the right scheme than bring forward a less ambitious scheme, simply to meet the deadline of the new moorings being completed.

 The Society has now been invited to an NFDC Consultation meeting in early August and intends to push the case for a bold and far reaching scheme that puts the creation of a vibrant public space at the heart of the plans for the area and which will hopefully see the bulk of the parking removed to other areas of the town.

 We hope that the community will take an active part in the forthcoming public consultations so that a consensus can be reached and hopefully the result will be an exciting new look for the Quay in the future.”

 Ends

Don Mackenzie

Lymington Society Press Spokesman

Lymington Society’s representations at Public enquiry – Oakhaven Hospice – Rural Lanes – 100 houses

PRESS RELEASE

Lymington Society’s representations at Public enquiry against proposed development of 100 houses near Oakhaven Hospice which will damage the character of Rural Lanes

The Lymington Society took part on Thursday the 20th of June in one of the most important sessions of the current Local Plan Public Examination, which is taking place at Appletree Court, at which the NFDC’s Local Plan which calls for major removal of land from the Green Belt for housing, is being examined by Planning Inspectors.

Under consideration was the allocation of land in Pennington for about 425 homes on two major “Strategic Sites” named Strategic Site 5 (SS 5) – which is on either side of Milford Road near the HCC Amenity Tip entrance, and Strategic Site 6 (SS 6) – which is between Lower Pennington Lane and Ridgeway Lane.

The Society took a major role at the Public Examination, making representations on both proposed sites at the Public Examination in Lyndhurst in front of the two Planning Inspectors who will decide on the soundness of the new NFDC Local Plan

The Society fully understands the need for housing to alleviate the severe housing shortage, and is not now objecting to the numbers being proposed in the Local Plan for Lymington and Pennington. This allocation was originally for 1100 for Lymington alone, which has now been reduced to a more manageable number of 425 following representations from the Lymington Society and others.

The first part of the Public Examination hearing on the 20th of June was concerned with the SS 5 site either side of the Milford Road – near the road to the amenity tip. We asked that both parts of this site be sensitively landscaped to reduce the impact when approaching Lymington from the West and to preserve the views of the Isle of Wight from the Milford Road. This was accepted by the NFDC and is to be written into the conditions for those sites.

However, the Society expressed complete opposition to the proposal for a major new development, which could total well over 120 homes in the Green Belt, on the controversial site around the Oakhaven Hospice – between Lower Pennington Lane and Ridgeway Lane.

Evidence that emerged in a previous session of the Public Examination concerning the Green Belt, revealed how often sites result in significantly more houses than originally proposed. The Society expressed concern that this could happen on this site, especially if the planned open green space is removed from the site, which could allow significantly more houses – possibly as many as 200.

The decision to allocate the SS 6 site was added to the Local Plan at the very last minute without proper prior consultation. This has led to concern locally with 700 residents joining a campaign to oppose this unsuitable site for a major development.

This site has been refused permission for housing at Planning Appeals on several occasions in the past, when Planning Inspectors have ruled in favour of preservation of the Green Belt on this site, which is very near the National Park and the designated nature conservation sites both only a few hundred yards away.

The Society agreed with local pressure group PALLS in expressing surprise that the NFDC had chosen to support removal of this site from the Green Belt for housing.

Summarising the situation Don Mackenzie, speaking for the Society, gave an overview of the fact that despite the detailed appraisal by consultants and NFDC Officers of all the possible sites in the town, the end result was that the most unsuitable site between the rural lanes of Lower Pennington Lane and Ridgeway Lane had been selected for development, which had led to strong objections by PALLS and by the Town Council.

Don Mackenzie went on to describe how the “rural lanes” leading to the proposed development site at SS 6 were specifically protected for their unique rural character in the “Rural Lanes” section of the “Lymington Local Distinctiveness Supplementary Planning Document” agreed by the NFDC in 2013.

Any development of the scale being planned at SS 6, would require upgrading and suburbanisation of the Rural Lanes to carry the large increase in traffic which would inevitably follow such a major development.

These changes would be contrary to the planning guidance for this part of the Town and lead to the loss of the unique character of this area.

Summing up the Society’s evidence Don Mackenzie said:

The Society is opposed to this proposal for “a minimum of 100 houses” on this beautiful site, which is on the boundary of the National Park and only a few hundred yard from the Solent and the important designated nature conservation areas nearby.

 The Society believes that this attractive site coupled with the rural lanes is an important area of Green Belt land which should continue to be protected.

 A large development of this site will not be possible without fundamental changes to the surrounding area that will threaten the unique rural character and be against the adopted Local Distinctiveness planning guidance that the Society originally argued to have put in place and has subsequently continued to argue for it to be retained

 We hope that the Planning Inspectors will take note of all the arguments that the Society, the Town Council and other local people have made, and reject the removal of this site from the Green Belt and its allocation for a major housing development”

Don Mackenzie

Lymington Society Press Spokesman.

Society President Dr Ivor Johnston

The Lymington Society wishes to express its sadness following the death of Dr Ivor Johnston, who served the Lymington Society for more than 20 years, most recently as President.

Ivor had a distinguished academic and medical background, and moved to Lymington to become a GP in 1960, finally retiring as Senior partner at Chawton House surgery in 2004, at the age of 70. He is fondly remembered by many of his patients.

His many contributions to Lymington include being a trustee of the Lymington Hospital League of Friends, and of the Solent Music Festival, of which he was a founder.

At the Lymington Society he acted as secretary for many years, before his recent elevation to President. One of his many claims to fame was the introduction to the Society of Clive Sutton, our Chairman.

Those of you who knew him will be pleased to know that he was very well looked after, enjoying an active and happy life up to the end.

Our thoughts are with Daphne and all of Ivor’s family and many friends. Lymington will not be the same without him.

Lymington Society Statement to the Planning Committee in relation to the McCarthy and Stone application for development in Milford Road

The Lymington Society has already written a letter of opposition to the proposed development. Since then we have been able to read the views of the Lymington and Pennington Town Council and also the views of the Officers in relation to this application.

On behalf the Lymington Society I agree with all these views. It is self-evident that a development of this size will have a significant impact not only on the general character of the neighbourhood, but also on its neighbours. There is an argument to say that, wherever this development was placed it would be out of keeping with its surroundings and the interests of its neighbours.

The main concern of the Lymington Society in relation to this development is that is being proposed in an area which has a significant impact on the character of Pennington and Lymington.

I am sure you are all very well versed in the Local Distinctiveness Supplemental Planning Guidance, which have been developed for various areas of the New Forest. Our particular concern is with that for Lymington and Pennington, which was adopted in 2011 after discussions between the New Forest District Council, the Lymington Society and various other bodies.

Can I quote to you from that Guidance. Paragraph 4.9.3 in respect of Milford Road states:

“The busy Milford Road includes a variety of large suburban houses and bungalows each in a large garden setting, often containing forest sized trees. This road is perceived as a green corridor largely as a result of the large gardens, frontages furnished with trees and hedges and wide green verges. These elements are important and must not be allowed to become unduly compromised by gradual loss of garden space, incremental loss of hedges, or loss of verges through additional driveway crossovers or further hard surfacing”.

That quotation sums up the essence of what the Lymington Society has been trying to preserve in the approaches to Lymington, including Southampton Road and Avenue Road. Lymington and Pennington are lucky that until the last 10 or 20 years there has not been any significant pressure to redevelop the largely detached houses standing in their own gardens, which line these roads so that these roads take the traveller right up to the entrances to the Georgian high street, without having to pass that barrier of modern office and residential blocks which characterise so many other towns.

The Lymington Society fought hard to preserve the character of Southampton Road and Avenue Road. For some reason the character of Milford Road has not been under threat until recently.

Obviously there is the long-standing functional development of the shopping arcade at Foxpond which serves a necessary purpose. The Belmore Lodge development was justified as being a corner site setback in its own grounds and with an Art Deco style to it. However to go further and permit further redevelopment of detached houses next to Belmore Lodge and indeed anywhere up to Priestlands Place at the entrance to St Thomas Street and the High Street would start to tip the balance of the character of Milford Road away from that of a green corridor. I say that not only in relation to this location, but also locations on Milford Road closer to Lymington, which developers might think would be ripe for redevelopment of this nature.

There is no doubt that any town requires a mixture of housing of which residential units for the elderly are one category. Obviously, such residential units will free up other residential units required for families and young people and there may well be places in Lymington, where they are appropriate, and the North Close development on a brownfield site has turned out to be a good example of that. There must be other sites which could accommodate such a development without affecting the local character and the local distinctiveness, so clearly set out in the local distinctiveness supplemental planning guidance.

I appreciate that as a planning committee you cover the whole of your planning area but I am sure that you will look at each locality, according to its own character and the character of that area which has been adopted by your Council in its appropriate supplemental planning guidance.

I have quoted from the guidance for Lymington and the Lymington Society asks that for this application and for future similar applications you support that guidance. In doing so you will be supporting the wishes of the Lymington and Pennington Town Council as expressed in their representations

Clive Sutton