A DECISION on plans to transform a semi-derelict site in a Hampshire town has been delayed - by a shortage of councillors.

An application to replace a building at Rumbridge Street, Totton, with flats and a commercial unit was due to be discussed at an online meeting of the district council's planning committee.

But at least one councillor left the meeting, which meant the number of members available to make a decision fell below the legal minimum.

The application is now due to be debated at the next meeting of the planning committee on November 11.

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Templeton Stockbridge Ltd has submitted plans for a two-storey building providing seven one-bedroom flats with a commercial unit on the ground floor. It follows the rejection of two previous application to redevelop the site.

Totton and Eling Town Council is urging New Forest District Council to refuse the new scheme.

In a letter to the authority it says: "There have been a number of improvements but the application is still not in keeping with the area. The town council would still wish to see more commercial space but in particular more shop frontage along Rumbridge Street in line with planning policy."

But district councillors are being recommended to approve the application.

A report by planning officers says: "The site occupies a prominent corner position and currently makes a negative contribution to the character of the area due to the vacant and dilapidated state of the building.

"Visually the proposed (new) building would make a positive contribution to the street scene.

"The site is constrained by a lack of off-street parking. However, it has been vacant for a number of years and the proposal would create a development which would make a positive contribution to the street and provide much needed residential and commercial units.

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"In applying the balancing exercise, the proposal would provide social and economic benefits including employment for construction workers and increased spending in local shops.

"The proposal would also provide environmental benefits by making efficient use of land to provide housing in a sustainable location close to services and facilities and would make a modest contribution towards housing supply.

"Moreover the proposal would bring forward an appropriate use of this vacant site.

"Overall it is considered that the benefits outweigh the negatives and the proposal is accordingly recommended for approval."