PLANNING chiefs have approved proposals to transform a Hampshire community centre by giving it a £2m facelift.

Lymington Community Association has been given the go-ahead to make a raft of improvements to the Lymington Centre, including a single-storey extension and a new outside play area.

The association says the existing play space is overlooked by other parts of the complex - a situation it describes as "far from ideal".

Now its application to "regenerate" the complex at the junction of New Street and Cannon Street has been granted by New Forest District Council.

The Lymington Centre comprises a group of buildings developed over a period of time including The Old Malthouse, which is Grade II-listed.

A report to councillors said: "The proposal comprises a single-storey extension to provide better facilities for the playgroup, a re-arrangement of internal spaces within the building to suit this as well as a new lift, with the lift shaft extending above roof level by approximately 500mms.

"This will replace an existing sub-standard lift.

"Externally a new play area will be formed at the rear of the building to serve the playgroup along with the relocation of the existing timber playhouse or a replacement with the same design.

"A timber shed-type storage building attached to the listed building is to be removed."

The report said the proposed extension would be "discreetly located to the rear of the building" and would not have an adverse impact on the conservation area or The Old Malthouse.

It added: "The relocation of the storage shed and playhouse will improve the setting of the listed building and the conservation area.

"The council’s conservation officer has expressed some concerns regarding the impact of the new lift shaft when viewed from outside the site.

"The agent has responded and provided various viewpoints from around the site which satisfy the case officer that the impact will be minimal and acceptable in heritage asset terms."

Two people living at Silvretta Court in New Street had objected to the application.

Under the plans the pre-school will move from the Normandy Room to the larger Robert Hole Room, increasing its capacity from 24 children to 32.