Lymington Society Objection to Ford’s Redevelopment Application – May 2010
The South East Plan requires local planning authorities to protect and enhance the character of small country towns. In particular,Policy CS2 requires that “New development will be required to be well designed to respect the character, identity, and context of the area’s towns, villages and countryside. All new development will be required to contribute positively to local distinctiveness and sense of place, being appropriate and sympathetic to its setting in terms of scale, height, density, layout, appearance, materials, and its relationship to adjoining buildings and landscape features, and shall not cause unacceptable effects by reason of visual intrusion, overlooking, shading, noise, light pollution or other adverse impact on local character and amenities. . . .” while Policy CS3 requires that “Development proposals must protect and, where possible, enhance sites of recognised importance for nature and heritage conservation . . . New development proposals should maintain local distinctiveness and where possible enhance the character of identified features. . . .”
The following extract from the applicants’ website gives an idea of what may be expected from their claimed 767 nationwide establishments: “During the day, our Lloyds No.1 bars can offer a quiet, relaxed pub, for all to enjoy a drink or meal; at night, the teams up the mood and tempo. The night-time teams are really focused on, and enthusiastic about, people having fun and providing a really vibrant atmosphere. Watch out for our regular party nights – great fun and often a bit of an eye-opener! At the weekends, many of our Lloyds No.1 bars have live DJs or live music.” Even in today’s secular, iconoclastic world it would be hard to devise a more inappropriate proposal than to separate such an establishment from a tranquil, historic church and its surrounding precinct only by an ancient listed wall. (The front door of the proposed drinking establishment and the west door of the church are separated by but 20 yards). A distinctive feature of the town is the high number of dwellings clustered on and around the High Street, many of which would be within the likely sound footprint of the applicants’ description above. (The closest, just 20 yards across the street, is an old people’s home). There is no merit to be found, either, among the other possible supporting reasons for a change of use. The A1 category, once lost, is unlikely to be regained and the vibrancy of the High Street will be diminished in proportion. Employment opportunities would be scarcely more numerous than those offered by the existing shop. No additional dwelling space is proposed, affordable or otherwise. The building lies opposite a busy road junction which is already habitually congested by vehicles many of which are parked illegally, and has no off-street parking space for delivery vehicles or for customers; and Lymington and Pennington are already well provided with pubs and clubs distributed both along the High Street and around the wider town.
It may be argued that such an establishment would serve the needs of the town’s younger inhabitants in a way that the existing High Street pubs do not, but the public order experience of recent years from establishments aimed at a similar target clientele suggests that where “The night-time teams are really focused on, and enthusiastic about, people having fun and providing a really vibrant atmosphere” the centre of the Conservation Area, between parish church and rest homes, is not an appropriate place. This application fails the tests of Policies CS2 and CS3 of the Core Strategy, and also conflicts with the distinctive character of the High Street and the standing of its ancient church, and should be refused.