A HAMPSHIRE hospice has been given the go-ahead to expand and help it meet rising demand for end-of-life care.

Civic chiefs have approved an application to build two low-key extensions to the Oakhaven complex in Lower Pennington Lane, Pennington.

Oakhaven occupies green belt land between the built-up part of Lymington and the New Forest National Park.

But New Forest District Council (NFDC) has supported proposals to fill the space between the main building and the chapel by building single-storey extensions that will provide two additional en-suite bedrooms.

Daily Echo:

Lymington and Pennington Town Council had urged the authority to approve the scheme.

Oakhaven's application said: "The intention is for these to be low-key, unobtrusive additions which would not affect the overall scale of character of the building.

"The extensions would have a simple appearance in keeping with the existing building.

"There would be no change to the landscape around the building – other than removal of the rather shaded and underused patio areas where the extensions are proposed to be sited."

The application said the proposed development would allow the hospice to expand and thus provide a valuable service to more people in the local community.

It added: "The hospice continues to operate at capacity and there continues to be a large unmet demand for additional palliative care."

A report to NFDC members said Oakhaven was situated in a sensitive area where strict planning policies aimed to protect the countryside.

But it added: "The proposal to provide a modest amount of additional floorspace does not result in any loss of openness to the green belt or result in any environmental harm to the character and appearance of the area.

"The site offers an essential health and social service to those in acute need, along with their families."

Daily Echo:

An Oakhaven spokesperson said the plans were drawn up last year, prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, and submitted in early February.

They added that Oakhaven's priority at the moment was to maintain its specialist care services both within the hospice and out in the wider community.

Services provided by Oakhaven cost £4.8m a year but only 14% of its budget is funded by the NHS. The rest comes from legacies and money raised in the community.

The hospice was founded by Phoebe Coates in memory of her husband John. It began as a charitable trust in the late 1980s when the land and original building, previously a house, were donated by the Coates family.

The hospice was officially opened in 1992 by the Duchess of Kent.

In 2010 actress Susan Hampshire visited Oakhaven to open one of several facilities that have either been built or refurbished over the years.