A DATE has been set for a public inquiry that could decide the fate of a Hampshire hotel with links to the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

The five-day inquiry, which will examine plans to replace the Lyndhurst Park Hotel with 75 retirement apartments and 15 affordable homes, will take place in January next year.

An initial application to build 74 flats and 12 holiday lets on the site was thrown out by the National Park Authority (NPA) last year.

The applicant, PegasusLife, went back to the drawing board and came up with an alternative scheme that included affordable homes, but that was also

rejected after sparking 860 objections.

PegasusLife lodged an appeal against the NPA’s second decision in a hope a

government-appointed planning inspector would allow the proposed development.

Now the NPA has confirmed that the appeal will be heard at an inquiry at the Forest Lodge Hotel, Lyndhurst, starting on January 29.

The 59-bedroom hotel closed in 2014 with the loss of 20 jobs.

The original was redesigned in 1912 with the help of legendary author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who lived at nearby Brook and was a frequent visitor to the building.

The Victorian Society and the Georgian Group both lodged objections to the proposals to redevelop the site.

A report published by the NPA said the revised scheme was similar to the first application, adding that the hotel’s direct link to Conan Doyle had increased its heritage value. But the organisation’s decision to refuse the second proposal came under fire from PegasusLife.

It said: “It’s disappointing that this amendment to our application has been largely ignored by campaigners, despite being raised by locals as a key reason for the original refusal.

“In recent months there has been a lot of focus on the historical significance of the site.

“It’s a position that has twice been rejected by Historic England, a public body tasked with championing historic places and helping the public to understand, value and care for them.”