PLANS to build almost 100 homes on the edge of a Hampshire town have been rejected after sparking 70 objections.

Civic chiefs have refused an application to redevelop a large area of grazing land in a "extremely sensitive location" just 500 metres from the boundary of the New Forest National Park.

They said the proposed development would create "an enclave of condensed suburbia" at St John's Farm in Stuckton Road, Fordingbridge.

The applicants had sought consent to build 78 dwellings and 20 "retirement homes", plus a village hall and a children's playground. The scheme also included a new access from the B3078.

But Fordingbridge Town Council and Godshill Parish Council urged New Forest District Council to reject the proposals.

The application also sparked scores of objections from people living in the area. They said the scheme would have a "severe" impact on the landscape as well as creating extra traffic problems in the area.

A report to district councillors said the site was located at the gateway to the national park, which already experienced high volumes of traffic.

It added: "The plans submitted do not demonstrate that a development of the scale proposed can be accommodated successfully on this site in a way that confirms to local and national design guidance."

The report said the site was part of an "extremely sensitive" area that contributed to the character and appearance of the landscape.

"It is clear that the development of this site in the suggested form creates a large new housing estate creating an enclave of condensed suburbia in an open countryside setting," it said.

"The predominant form of development in this area is scattered rural

farmsteads and buildings with well-established rural villages to the north and east.

"Regardless of any design improvements that could be made, a large estate-type development in this location would be inappropriate, intrusive and out of character."

The planning application cited the "huge under-supply of housing" in the district.

It added: "It is against this desperate need and requirement for new housing that this application is made.

"The site is within easy walking distance of the centre of the town and all the services and facilities required for day-to-day living."

The application said Fordingbridge was outside the Green Belt and was not in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

"It is the logical town for further residential expansion, given its proximity to Salisbury and Bournemouth and the lack of planning constraints (on land) surrounding it," it said.

"This would be the first major development east of the A338 - recent planning permissions in the town have largely been to the north of Fordingbridge.

"However, those new residential areas are remote from the town centre in comparison with this scheme."