AN AWARD-winning Hampshire hotel has unveiled a £4m expansion scheme which includes an extra 38 bedrooms.

The four-star Balmer Lawn Hotel in Brockenhurst is also planning to plant more than 100 trees, extend its function room and create a new traffic system which will make it easier to enter and leave the site.

The scheme, which will create 22 full and part-time jobs, aims to secure the hotel's future by enabling it to win more business.

Chris and Alison Wilson, who have owned the Balmer Lawn for more than 20 years, say it will also allow the New Forest to benefit from trade which is being lost to Winchester, Southampton and Bournemouth.

The hotel currently has only 54 bedrooms, which prevents it from staging a large number of functions that require 60-70 rooms.

If planning permission is granted, the 38 new rooms will be housed in a two-storey building in the grounds of the existing complex.

In a statement outlining their proposals Mr and Mrs Wilson said the Beaulieu function room would be expanded from its current capacity of 120 to 240.

"This will enable the hotel to compete effectively with the larger hotels in the New Forest and enable us to attract business that currently cannot be accommodated in the Forest," they said.

"The scheme will also create a one-way traffic flow around the hotel, making it much easier to get in and out of the property.

"By removing parked cars from the front elevation of the hotel it will create a real 'sense of arrival' with the main entrance being enhanced with a pedestrianised entrance and a drop-off parking facility."

Listing the benefits of the proposed development the couple said: "We believe this is the next step to ensure the sustainability of the hotel for the next 50 years.

"It will allow the hotel to compete effectively with larger hotels and win new business that we've been unable to secure as we're not large enough in terms of bedrooms and function space."

The plans, which include new staff accommodation, have been submitted to the New Forest National Park Authority.

The application says: "The proposals have been devised to create the space required for the hotel to expand in order to meet demand, increase its market appeal and benefit from economies of scale.

"The increase in guest accommodation will enable the hotel to accept bookings for larger wedding parties and conferences."