ONE OF Britain's leading conservation groups is fighting plans to demolish most of a Hampshire hotel with links to a famous author.

Proposals to replace the Lyndhurst Park Hotel with 79 apartments and three commercial units have sparked an objection by the Victorian Society.

Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and one of Britain's leading spiritualists, helped redesign the hotel in 1912.

Hoburne Development has pledged to retain the most historic part of the building if its application to transform the site is given the go-ahead.

But the Victorian Society claims some of the elements associated with the author would be lost.

In a letter to the National Park Authority (NPA) it says: "Drawings by Conan Doyle demonstrate how the design for the facade was based on his spiritualist view of the journey of the soul. Sections of the facade represent 'death', 'after life' and the 'higher spiritual place'.

"This is a bizarre yet fascinating feature which should be championed.

"The building is not only a unique example of Conan Doyle's architectural work but also a tangible representation of his spiritualist beliefs.

"Efforts to restore elements of the facade are included in the scheme. However, it would remove the 'afterlife' section as well as the tower, representative of the 'higher spiritualist place'."

Hoburne is proposing to turn the front of the hotel into apartments.

The Victorian Society says: “We are not opposed to the conversion. However it is important that a greater percentage of the building is retained.”

The scheme has also come under fire from the Ancient Monuments Society.

Its letter to the NPA says: "The proposal seeks to not only demolish the later extensions to the hotel, but also about a third of the historic Conan Doyle building. The local plan explicitly states the historic portion should be retained and restored.”

The hotel closed in 2014 and part of the complex collapsed at the start of last year.

Several Lyndhurst residents have voiced support for the Hoburne scheme, saying it would remove an eyesore and enhance the entrance to the village. The scheme was also praised at a recent meeting of Lyndhurst Parish Council.

Hoburne submitted its proposals earlier this year.

The application says: "The historic elements of the former hotel would be retained and reinstated to their former glory, leading to considerable enhancements to the site."

Asked about objections to the proposal a Hoburne spokesperson said: "We have submitted a planning application for the Lyndhurst Park Hotel.

"It's now in the hands of the local planning authority to process the application.”