CONTROVERSIAL plans to replace a former police station with a "prison-like" block of flats have been thrown out.

McCarthy and Stone has lost an appeal lodged after its application to build 35 retirement apartments on a site at Jones Lane in Hythe was turned down in July last year.

New Forest District Council rejected the application after receiving 76 letters of objection to the proposals.

Cllr Allan Glass, now the council's chairman, told fellow members of the planning committee: “The proposed development looks like a really ugly prison.”

Cllr Ann Sevier added: “It looks rather like an industrial unit, not somewhere you would want to go and live.”

New Forest Post:

The multi-million-pound scheme also came under fire from one of the objectors, Martin Cox, who told the committee: “This development would sit very nicely in a town – but does not sit nicely in the charming village of Hythe.”

McCarthy and Stone challenged the council's decision but its appeal has been dismissed by government-appointed planning inspector Steven Rennie.

The inspector said the applicant wanted to demolish the two-storey former police station and replace it with a three and four-storey complex.

He added: "The proposed building would be significantly taller and have a substantially greater volume. The result would be a deep form of building which would appear bulky as it is not significantly 'broken up', despite is substantial size."

Mr Rennie said the building's appearance would be "inconsistent" with its surroundings.

New Forest Post:

The inspector acknowledged that most of the site was outside the Hythe Conservation Area but said it was within the setting of the zone and had an impact on its character.

He added that the scheme would result in an "overly-dominant" structure which would have a negative impact on nearby Grade II listed buildings.

Councillors rejected the application after saying it amounted overdevelopment. They also attacked the building’s “poor design”, adding that it would be much larger than its neighbours.

Some of the objectors claimed Hythe was already “inundated” with retirement flats.

But McCarthy and Stone said the scheme was an appropriate use of an under-utilised site which had been blighted by vandalism and anti-social behaviour since the police station closed in 2017.

Regional managing director Shane Paull said: “We believe our proposals present the opportunity to sensitively redevelop this brownfield site with specialist retirement accommodation.

“These plans will not only improve choice for the local community but will also help to free up homes for families and first-time buyers further along the housing chain.”