CONTROVERSIAL plans to demolish a row of century-old shops in a Hampshire village have been given the go-ahead.

Members of the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) have approved an application to replace the timber-framed shops at Lyndhurst Road, Brockenhurst.

Farooq Ahmed applied for planning permission to replace the buildings with a cafe and holiday lets.

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The Brockenhurst Conservation Area Character Appraisal says the structures are a rare surviving example of small shops built in the early part of the last century and should be preserved.

Brockenhurst Parish Council urged the NPA to reject Mr Ahmed's application, which also sparked 23 letters of objection from locals.

But the proposal has been approved by the NPA's planning committee.

A report to members said: "The application relates to four modest shop units which are prominently sited within the Brockenhurst Conservation Area.

"The quirky design of the shops contributes to the character of the village.

"Until only a few years ago these shops were in use. They were an attractive row animating the street scene as a group of antique shops until around 2014."

But the report said the condition of the shops had deteriorated over a long period of time.

It added: "It has been established that much of the original historic fabric of the existing buildings has been lost and that this has largely been attributed to a series of ongoing poor quality repairs rather than deliberate neglect.

"The retention of these buildings would be unviable as it would necessitate the wholesale replacement of a large proportion of the existing structure.

"The proposed building would, subject to appropriate landscaping, not have a harmful impact upon the character and appearance of the conservation area.

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"The proposal to incorporate a commercial use on the ground floor would ensure the vibrancy and mix of uses along this part of the Lyndhurst Road would be retained.

"The proposed visitor accommodation would be low key and incidental to the main restaurant use."

NPA member Sue Bennison said: "I think the design is very nice and in keeping. The applicant is very brave to do this at this time and I wish him well."

Another member of the committee, Ann Sevier, described the scheme as "very suitable".