PLANS for a multi-million-pound housing scheme have stalled after proposals to build a supermarket on neighbouring land were rejected by one vote.
Churchill Retirement Living has been given the go-ahead to build 36 sheltered apartments in Hythe in a move that aims to ease the shortage of specialist accommodation for older residents.
But Churchill is unable to proceed with the scheme because proposals for a Lidl store on an adjoining site were refused at the same meeting.
The two applications centred on land currently occupied by a car park and PC Building Supplies.
Planning permission for both schemes would have enabled PC Building Supplies to move to Hardley Industrial Estate, releasing all the space needed for the flats and supermarket.
But the Lidl application was rejected at a meeting of New Forest District Council’s planning and development control committee.
As reported in the Daily Echo, councillors criticised the design of the Lidl store and the potential impact on a neighbouring conservation area.
One of the scheme’s most outspoken critics, Cllr Steve Rippon-Swaine, described the supermarket as a “monstrosity”.
But council planning officer Chris Elliott warned: “There’s a very good chance that if the application is turned down you will lose this scheme. Conservation is important but the vitality of Hythe shopping centre is even more important.”
Lidl is deciding whether to lodge an appeal, submit a revised scheme or abandon its attempt to open in the village.
A spokesman said: “We are naturally very disappointed with the decision particularly as officers had elected to recommend approval of the scheme.
“We will now reflect on that decision before deciding on the best course of action.”
Churchill’s planning director, Andrew Burgess, described the council’s decision to approve the sheltered housing scheme as “very positive” news for Hythe.
But he added: “Unfortunately we will be unable to proceed until plans for a new Lidl store on the adjacent site can be finalised to allow for the relocation of PC Building Supplies. We are disappointed by the delay but remain confident of a positive outcome.”
During the committee meeting several councillors urged Lidl to submit a new scheme.
Cllr David Harrison said: “This is an alien design in the context of Hythe. I hope the applicant will come back with a design that’s more in keeping with the village.”