PLANS to bulldoze a former police station and replace it with 32 flats for older residents have sparked a flurry of objections.

Churchill Retirement Living's application to redevelop a site at Southampton Road, Lymington, comes just weeks after planning permission was granted for 44 retirement apartments at nearby Stanford Hill.

Critics claim Lymington already has too many flats for the over-55s and say the police site should be used to provide housing for younger people.

Objectors include the Lymington Society, which has spent years trying to persuade planners to preserve the character of the tree-lined roads that lead into the town centre.

In a statement the Society said the proposed development was out of keeping with most of the family homes in the area.

"It would create yet one more precedent for the loss of the character of this important green artery into the town and the construction of yet more flats and sheltered accommodation."

The statement said a similar development in nearby North Close was still half empty, more than two years after it was built.

It added: "Retirement homes will be over-provided for, particularly as approval has now been given for some 40 units to be built on Stanford Hill.

"To maintain the vibrancy of the community, the town needs accommodation for younger people and affordable housing for families. The police station site would be ideal to provide such accommodation."

Other objectors have made similar comments in letters to New Forest District Council, which will decide the application.

One protester said: "There is currently an abundance of retirement apartments on the market in Lymington.

"It is generally felt there should be more affordable housing for first-time purchasers and families in the town to keep it a vibrant and thriving community."

Another objector added: "Lymington already has enough establishments of this type, a number of them only partly occupied.

"Lymington needs homes for younger people who at present have great difficulty in finding affordable places to live."

The application says the number UK citizens aged 65 or over is expected to rise to 15 million by 2030.

It adds: "The vast majority of our housing stock is not built with the needs of older people in mind. There are still far too few suitable new homes being delivered and many older people are living in homes which are unable to meet their changing needs.

"It is estimated there will be a shortfall of 400,000 purpose-built homes for older people by 2035."

The application says the proposed development "is consistent with the pattern of development within this stretch of Southampton Road".