NATIONAL Park chiefs have revealed that part of a New Forest hospital site could be used for housing.

The National Park Authority (NPA), which is drawing up a planning blueprint for the district, has raised the prospect of 30 homes being built on land occupied by Ashurst Hospital.

The long-term future of the complex in Lyndhurst Road, Ashurst, has been under discussion for several years.

In a statement the NPA said the possibility of redeveloping the site had been put forward by NHS Property Services, which felt that part of the facility was no longer needed.

But the neighbouring New Forest Birthing Centre, known as the Snowden Building, is due to be retained.

Steve Avery, the NPA’s executive director of strategy and planning, said: “We met with NHS Property Services and Natural England to discuss how the site can be allocated for redevelopment in our draft Local Plan in a way that protects features of the site.

“In drafting the policy we commissioned a detailed assessment of potential impacts on the internationally-protected habitats that adjoin the site.

“This work has influenced the proposed form of residential development on the site. Our draft allocation policy also seeks to retain the Victorian chapel at the entrance to the site.”

Now locals can have their say on the possibility of the hospital site being used for housing or care accommodation.

A six-week consultation runs until March 6 and will be followed by a one-day public hearing at Lymington Town Hall on March 21.

Mr Avery said: “We have taken into account the feedback we received in 2017 on the potential redevelopment of the site and would encourage people to submit their comments on the draft policy.”

West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) confirmed it was reviewing services based at Ashurst Hospital.

New Forest Post:

A spokesman said: “We still considering potential options and no definitive plans have been decided.

“The aim remains to create a child and family-friendly Health and Wellbeing Centre which focuses on providing a range of services for children, young people and families living in the New Forest and Totton and Waterside areas.”

The hospital is currently home to only a small number of facilities.

Last year the CCG said locals invited to talk about the future of complex had called for “the right services, closer to home”.

The hospital was originally a New Forest Union workhouse that was built in 1836 at a cost of £5,000, with space for 200 people.

Following the creation of the National Health Service in 1948 it was used to provide care for elderly people.