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