SUPPORT is flooding in for a £4m plan to secure the future of a Hampshire hotel by adding an extra 38 bedrooms.

A planning application relating to the Balmer Lawn Hotel in Brockenhurst also includes proposals 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 aims to create 22 jobs well as enabling the hotel to win more business.

Chris and Alison Wilson, who have owned the Balmer Lawn for more than 20 years, say it would also enable the Forest to benefit from trade which is being lost to other parts of Hampshire.

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

The planning application has received a ringing endorsement from Anthony Climpson of Go New Forest (GNF), which represents the New Forest's tourist industry.

In a letter to the National Park Authority he says: "Balmer Lawn's present owners have spent the past two decades working tirelessly to take the hotel from being a broken down example of everything that can go wrong in hospitality to a shining example of the very best in quality and service.

"However, the property suffers from many constraints to its capability to improve further.

"GNF believes the success of this planning application represents a make or break opportunity for the Balmer Lawn Hotel to provide the special level and quality of provision which matches the special quality and needs of the national park."

A letter of support has also been received from Calum MacLean, owner of the Snakecatcher pub in Brockenhurst.

He says: "We have seen a number of Brockenhurst hotels and small businesses close in recent years and it is getting increasingly difficult to sustain a competitive model within a highly seasonal market.

"The expansion of the hotel will underpin its ability to compete and maintain local employment not just for the hotel itself but for surrounding businesses such as my own.

"Clearly much thought has gone into this including due consideration for the environment, external appearance and removal of some of the dated outbuildings which do nothing for the area."

A resident of Sway Road, Brockenhurst, adds: "The Balmer Lawn Hotel is an iconic building which brings valuable visitors to the area. To see it grow and proser can only be good for local businesses."