CIVIC chiefs have approved plans to restore a monument built to honour one of Hampshire's greatest naval heroes.

Campaigners have been given the go-ahead to refurbish a 75ft obelisk erected in memory of Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale, who lived near Lymington in what is now Walhampton School.

Sir Harry rose to become Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet.

He captured or destroyed 20 enemy vessels during his career as well as helping to defeat a mutiny and was also Lymington's MP for a total of 25 years over four decades.

An application to restore the monument has been approved by the New Forest National Park Authority.

Last year the project, hailed as a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to refurbish the Egyptian-style obelisk, was awarded a £97,800 grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Work on the long-awaited project is due to start in the spring.

Campaigners are planning to reverse the ravages of time by cleaning and repairing the structure. Some of the paving slabs surrounding the base of the monument are due to be replaced and improvements to the drainage system are also proposed.

The bill for refurbishing the monument and raising Sir Harry's profile in the area is expected to top £130,000.

Lymington and Pennington Town Council, working in partnership with conservation watchdogs at the influential Lymington Society, has now appointed project managers.

Christchurch-based architects Columba Cook will supervise the restoration of the monument and Sway-based charity SPUD will be responsible for a community programme that aims to recognise the Admiral's contribution to Lymington and the Royal Navy.

Mark Drury from SPUD said: "We are really excited to be part of this important project.

"We look forward to building on the extensive work already carried out by the Lymington Society to raise the profile of this forgotten naval hero, who was also most certainly Lymington’s most celebrated resident."