VANDALS are targeting a historic Hampshire hotel that has stood empty since it closed three years ago with the loss of 20 jobs.

Conservationists say a “priceless” stained-glass window installed in the 19th century is among the items that have damaged or destroyed by intruders at the Lyndhurst Park Hotel.

An application by PegasusLife to replace the hotel with retirement apartments was rejected by the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) earlier this year.

Now critics are accusing PegasusLife and the NPA of not doing enough to safeguard the site.

Caroline Wilkins, vice-chairman of Lyndhurst Parish Council, said the Authority was blocking attempts to make it a listed building.

She added: “The NPA has failed in its remit to protect heritage assets and has seriously let down the people of Lyndhurst and the New Forest.”

Built as Glasshayes House in 1810, the hotel’s history includes Poldark-style smuggling and even a visit by Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson.

The stained-glass window depicted a famous cast iron stirrup used during the reign of King William Rufus – son of William the Conqueror – to measure dogs.

Only those small enough to squeeze through were allowed to enter the newly-created royal hunting ground.

Cllr Wilkins said: “The window came through two world wars and survived more than 100 years in an active hotel but has now been destroyed.”

However, PegasusLife said it was doing everything it could to protect the building.

Grant Drummond, the company’s development director for the site, said: “We are in regular contact with the police and have reported all break-ins that we’ve become aware of.

“Our security company has detained people on site and passed details of people and vehicles to the police and this has resulted in at least one arrest.

“We’re taking every practicable measure to minimise opportunities for unlawful access.”

Mr Drummond said PegasusLife sought consent from the NPA to erect hoardings to increase security but the application was rejected.

Steve Avery, the NPA’s executive director of strategy and planning, said the Authority was aware of vandalism at the hotel.

He added: “The building is not of sufficient architectural or historical significance to warrant listed building status and already receives protection due to its location within the Lyndhurst Conservation Area.”

A Hampshire police spokesman said officers had visited the site several times.

He added: “We are working with partners in an effort to address the issues around reported anti-social behaviour and the security of the hotel.”