PLANNING chiefs have rejected the latest attempt to bulldoze a Hampshire pub and replace it with housing.

An application to demolish The Silver Hind in Station Road, Sway, and build two homes on the site has been thrown out after sparking almost 70 objections.

Taylor Grey Homes has spent months trying to gain planning permission to redevelop the site.

A proposal to replace the pub with three homes was rejected by the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) last year after prompting more than 80 objections.

Taylor Grey argued that the proposed development would provide much-needed housing in an area where building land was in short supply.

But the NPA described the design as cramped and out of character, adding that it would result in the loss of a community facility.

As reported in the Daily Echo the company later attempted to overcome all the objections by submitting plans to build only two homes on the site.

But the new proposal has also been turned down after sparking 68 objections.

Critics claimed the development would result in the loss of a community facility which they described as a focal point for the village and a source of employment.

They also said the scheme amounted to "inappropriate development" in a mainly commercial area.

The Silver Hind is owned by Andy and Carol Cottingham, who say the business is no longer viable. But a report by NPA planning officer Liz Young says no evidence has been produced to support the claim.

The report adds: "The proposal would result in the loss of a valuable employment use within the commercial centre.

"Previous concerns relating to cramped layout, loss of amenity, impact on trees and inadequate parking have also not been overcome.

"The application, which would necessitate the complete demolition of the existing buildings, has not been accompanied by any form of ecological survey, and the impact the proposed development would have upon protected species remains un-established."

Taylor Grey have blamed the NPA for the demise of the business, saying it rejected previous planning applications that aimed to improve the facilities.

A design and access statement that accompanied the latest application said: "Attempts to enhance the accommodation and restaurant have been stopped by the local planning authority as they effectively consider the site to be constrained, with a need to protect neighbouring properties.

"This has clearly had an impact on the saleability of the premises as a going concern.

"The authority therefore must be aware that their previous actions have now led to a business that is no longer viable and cannot be sold in its present state."