PLANS to open a cycle hire facility in the New Forest have been given the go-ahead - despite several objections to the scheme.

The Lymington-based National Park Authority (NPA) has approved the latest application to transform a former coal yard next to Ashurst railway station.

Ashurst and Colbury Parish Council had urged the NPA to reject the application.

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Members said the scheme would have a detrimental impact on a "valuable green barrier" between homes and the railway line. They also warned it would make a neighbouring junction with the busy A35 "even less safe".

The NPA also received seven letters of objection from people living near the site.

One objector said: "The current site does not represent a source of noise or disturbance to our property. However the new development would result in a completely unacceptable and negative impact on our living conditions."

Another protester said green spaces "made the difference between national parks and the rest of the country".

A similar application was rejected by the NPA in 2019 and a subsequent appeal was dismissed by a government-appointed planning inspector.

A report to members of the authority said the latest application aimed to overcome objections to the previous proposal.

Listing some of the changes made to the scheme the report said the number of parking places had been cut from 41 to 31 and the position of the proposed cycle hire building had changed.

The report added: "The proposal in its amended form would not give rise to an unacceptably harmful loss of amenity.

"The main source of increased activity has been moved away from the private rear garden area of neighbouring properties.

"The reduced number of parking spaces would reduce the overall intensification which would result from the development."

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The report said the scheme would inevitably increase activity at the site. But it claimed the overall impact "would not be unacceptable" because the houses were close to the railway line, the existing car park and a pub.

NPA member George Bisson said he had every sympathy with the residents who were worried about the prospect of noise and disturbance.

But he added: "The site is alongside a main train line to London so I wouldn’t think the application would be overly problematic.

“I think this would be a proper use of a piece of derelict land.”