CAMPAIGNERS are fighting plans to demolish a group of historic buildings at the entrance to a New Forest village.

Farooq Ahmed has applied for planning permission to replace a parade of timber-clad shops in Lyndhurst Road, Brockenhurst, with a cafe and holiday lets.

But the scheme has received a cool reception from the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA), which will decide the application.

It has cited the Brockenhurst Conservation Area Character Appraisal, which says the buildings are a rare example of small shops built in the early part of the last century and should be preserved.

A previous application to demolish the stores - known collectively as The Squirrels - was rejected in 2018.

Objectors to the latest proposal include a conservation watchdog group called Friends of the New Forest.

In a letter to the NPA it says: "Holiday lets can benefit tourism and employment but the real need in the Forest is for affordable housing.

"We question the feasibility of building new shops at a time of rapid decline in high street shopping, the rise in online purchases and the real prospect of many existing shops closing and remaining empty following the current pandemic."

Objections have also been submitted by Friends of Brockenhurst, the local parish council and people living near the site.

One Lyndhurst Road resident says the extra traffic generated by the proposed development will have a "massive" impact on surrounding roads.

She adds: "We are already struggling during the tourist season and this will tip us over the edge.

"The volume of cars parked on the road would increase during construction and operation. The level of car pollution is already making us feel ill."

But the applicant has defended his proposals to redevelop the site, which he describes as an eyesore.

In a letter to the NPA he says: "I purchased this property with the intention of creating a family business which my wife Tracy and son Jai will run. We are not looking to 'make a quick buck' as some have suggested.

"The holiday lets will be aimed at cyclists. When we advertise we will be clear in stating that car parking is extremely limited."