CONTROVERSIAL plans to demolish most of a Hampshire hotel are likely to be given the go-ahead next week.

Members of the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) are being recommended to approve an application to replace the Lyndhurst Park Hotel with three shops and 79 homes.

The hotel is not a listed building but occupies a prime site at the eastern entrance to Lyndhurst - often dubbed the capital of the Forest.

Originally a country house built in the early 1800s it was extended in the Victorian era and was later remodelled by Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. Extensions were built in the 1970s and 1980s.

Burry and Knight's application to replace the hotel, which has stood empty since 2014, has sparked 63 letters of objection.

Protesters say a "significant portion" of the area designed by Conan Doyle will be lost. They also claim the proposed development will be too tall as well as being out of character.

But the scheme has also resulted in 19 letters of support from people who say it will remove an eyesore as well as providing homes and jobs.

NPA planning officers say the proposal should be approved, subject to conditions.

In a report to members of the planning committee they describe the plan as a "significant departure" from previous schemes, which sought the demolition of the whole building.

The report confirms that the latest application will retain most of the historic elements of the structure.

It also praises the scale and design of the proposed development, saying it will result in a scheme that is sympathetic to an important location in the village.

"The current building appears as an anomaly within the village, being finished in white render and of much greater size and scale than the shops and cottages which characterise the village."

Summing up, the report says the land is allocated for housing in the NPA's Local Plan.

"The site is a significant brownfield resource and national policy encourages the re-use of such sites to meet local needs.

"Compared to previously refused applications, this proposal has a lower quantum of overall development and importantly retains historic elements of the existing building.

"The proposals also include eight affordable dwellings for local people and this level of provision has been independently verified on viability grounds.

"Historic England has considered several requests to list the building but on each occasion have declined to do so."