A CONTROVERSIAL multi-million-pound plan to transform part of a Hampshire town centre has been thrown out after a public inquiry.

A government-appointed planning inspector has rejected proposals to replace Lymington’s former bus station with a shop and 17 sheltered apartments for the elderly.

Two similar applications submitted by Ringwood-based Renaissance Retirement were refused by New Forest District Council and have now been turned down on appeal.

Both proposals included a retail unit at the front, plus 17 parking spaces hidden in an underground space accessed by a car lift.

The bus station closed in 2015, with operators blaming a reduction in services caused by bus subsidy cuts and an increase in fuel duty.

The High Street site is part of the Lymington Conservation Area and is also close to several Grade II listed buildings including Londesborough House.

One of the 50 objections to the first application was lodged by the council’s own conservation team, which said the proposed development would harm the conservation area. A revised scheme submitted earlier this year also came under fire.

Now both proposals have been thrown out following a one-day inquiry into the £10 million project.

A report published by the planning inspector who chaired the hearing, Sheila Holden, says one of the planned new buildings would be harmful to its setting and two others would result in the loss of historic walls.

The report adds: “The development as a whole would appear out of scale with its surroundings.

“The complex arrangement of roof forms would not sit comfortably alongside the surroundings buildings, which are characterised by smaller proportions and simpler forms.

“The proposals would fail to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Lymington Conservation Area.”

A spokesman for Renaissance Retirement was unavailable for comment.