OWNERS of a popular Hampshire pub have lodged an appeal after their £100,000 proposal to provide overnight accommodation was rejected.

Debbie and Duane Lewis applied for planning permission to convert a former skittle alley at the Bold Forester in Beaulieu Road, Marchwood, into four lodges.

But the application was turned down by the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) in April last year.

A report to members said each of the lodges would comprise a bedroom/lounge area. Part of the car park behind the pub would be enclosed to provide outdoor seating areas for the occupants.

The report said the proposed change of use would result in “limited economic benefit” to the local community.

It added: “The additional activity associated with the use of the four units by holidaymakers, with the potential for noise and light pollution and the likelihood of additional traffic movements outside normal public house hours, would have an adverse impact.”

A recent meeting of the NPA’s planning committee heard that Mr and Mrs Lewis had challenged the decision.

A document outlining the grounds of their appeal says the proposed development would “greatly enhance” the viability of the business, creating jobs and securing the retention of a community asset.

It adds that the applicants are willing to take steps to ensure the scheme does not have a negative impact on the New Forest.

The application produced only one letter of objection and was supported by Denny Lodge Parish Council.

Mr and Mrs Lewis are among the best-known publicans in the Forest.

They also own five other watering holes - the Royal Oak at Beaulieu, the New Forest Inn at Emery Down, the Trusty Servant at Minstead, the Mortimer Arms at Ower and the Royal Oak at Downton.

Their proposal to upgrade the Bold Forester was submitted in December last year.

The application said: “The proposal would operate in conjunction with the pub, as part of the same overarching business, and would generate an additional source of income.

“Letting rooms are likely to widen its customer base by attracting leisure demand and people who may not have otherwise visited the pub.”