THE NEW owners of a landmark Hampshire hotel have vowed to save the most historic part of the building.

Hoburne Development is planning to demolish most of the Lyndhurst Park Hotel but the facade - designed with the help of legendary author Arthur Conan Doyle - is due to be retained.

A planning application will be submitted to the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) in the next few weeks.

Hoburne's proposals include five shops and 77 homes. The section designed by Conan Doyle will be restored and converted into eight holiday apartments.

If planning permission is granted work on the multi-million-pound scheme is due to begin by the end of the year.

Details of the project were revealed yesterday at a drop-in session at which Lyndhurst residents could study artist's impressions of the proposed development and ask questions.

Formerly a country mansion called Glasshayes House, the building was converted into a hotel in 1895.

Part of the complex was redesigned in 1912 with the help of Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, who lived at nearby Brook and was a frequent visitor to Lyndhurst.

The site was at the centre of a long-running battle between planners and its former owners.

An application by PegasusLife to replace the building with 74 sheltered apartments and a dozen holiday homes was rejected by the NPA.

A subsequent proposal for 75 flats and 15 affordable homes was also turned down after sparking 800 objections.

Protesters included the Victorian Society, which said: "The former Lyndhurst Park Hotel currently stands as the only remaining building designed by Arthur Conan Doyle.

"Archive material shows Conan Doyle visiting in 1912 and by autumn that year the hotel had been transformed, with a third floor extension and new façade, all designed by Conan Doyle."

Under the proposals put forward by Hoburne, the hotel's modern entrance will be removed.

However, the company is planning to retain the rest of the building's facade and reintroduce some of the features which have been lost over the years, including several chimneys.

The 77 homes, some of which will be affordable, will be a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom properties. Hoburne is hoping they will be occupied by first-time buyers, families and retired people.