DEVELOPERS have launched a third attempt to gain consent for a £10 million plan to transform a town centre site in Hampshire.

Renaissance Retirement wants to bulldoze a former bus station in Lymington High Street and replace it with 17 retirement apartments, plus a shop and an underground car park.

The company’s initial application was thrown out by New Forest District Council last year and a revised scheme was turned down earlier this month.

Now Ringwood-based Renaissance has lodged an appeal against the authority’s decision to reject the first scheme.

Members of the council’s planning and development control committee heard that the application had sparked 50 letters of protest, some of which complained about the loss of the bus terminal.

One of the objections was lodged by the council’s own heritage team, which claimed the proposed development would have a harmful impact on the Lymington Conservation Area.

Representatives from Renaissance said the company’s plan to transform the site would result in a high quality development that would help meet the huge demand for retirement flats in the area.

But the scheme came under fire from Cllr Alison Hoare, a former chairman of the council.

She said: “Regardless of whether you want the bus station to be retained or not, this is a prime site for redevelopment and whatever is built there should be sympathetic to its beautiful and historic surroundings.

“This design is is totally uninspiring. It’s a run-of the mill, off-the-block development.”

Cllr Anna Rostand, a former mayor of Lymington, was one of several speakers who cited the shortage of homes for young first-time buyers.

She added: “We’ve already got so many retirement homes in Lymington and I don’t think we need any more. You won’t be able to move in the High Street for old people and trolleys.”

The scheme was rejected on the grounds it would fail to preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area and would have an adverse impact on Grade II-listed buildings surrounding the site.

Following the council’s decision Renaissance submitted a new proposal – but that too has been refused.

Speaking at a meeting of the planning committee on June 14 Simon McFarlane, associated planning director at Renaissance, said the number of New Forest residents in 65-plus age group was set to rise sharply.

Mr McFarlane cited the “huge need” for retirement properties suitable for older couples who wanted to downsize.

But Maureen Holding, one of 17 councillors who voted against the application, said the “cramped and contrived” scheme amounted to over-development.