PLANNING chiefs are studying proposals to improve response times by installing electronically-operated doors at a New Forest fire station.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) is seeking to upgrade the station at Christchurch Road, Ringwood, where crews have been based since the 1970s.

HFRS wants to replace the doors at the front and back of the bay which houses the fire engine.

It application says: "The front doors are to be electrically operated so they can be opened at the touch of a button rather than manually by a member of the crew, limiting as far as possible the delay in being able to respond.

"They will automatically close after the departure of the appliance, thereby restoring the security of the building."

The application says the doors will also be insulated, reducing heat loss from the building, but adds: "These proposals are solely related to aiding the efficient deployment of personnel in response to a call-out and will not result in any additional capacity that could affect traffic."

Concerns have been raised by one of the people living near the fire station.

In a letter to New Forest District Council Richard Sheerin says: "We are concerned that the new doors may be less effective in preventing sound transmission and also the automatic mechanism may be noisy."

Mr Sheerin is calling for conditions to be attached if planning permission is granted.

He says the doors should be no noisier than the present ones, no tannoy announcements should be made after the doors are opened, and sirens should not be used until vehicles are on the road.

Despite being built in the 1970s and having bright red doors the fire station forms part of the Ringwood Conservation Area.

The council's initial assessment of the proposal says: "The building is set back from the road but by reason of their colour the doors are quite dominant. The size of the door opening is not being altered but consideration will need to be given to how the change in design may impact on the street scene.

"Concerns have been raised by a neighbour with regard to potential noise issues arising from the motorised front door and also the sound isolation."