Developers are celebrating the opening of a major housing scheme that sparked a long planning battle.

Proposals to build more than 40 retirement flats in Lymington were twice turned down by New Forest District Council before being given the go-ahead following a public inquiry.

Four houses at Stanford Hill were demolished to make way for the 44-home development.

The official opening of the new Lymington Gate complex was hosted by Chris Powell, chief operating officer of Pegasus Homes, who was joined by sales advisor Angela MacDougall.

READ MORE: Plan to build 45 sheltered flats for OAPs thrown out by New Forest District Council

Mr Powell said: "We strive to redefine later-living by creating comfortable and supportive communities in sought-after locations across England where people can enjoy a sociable and independent lifestyle.

"It’s crucially important we establish communities in locations that enable and empower our residents to live their fullest lives, ensuring health and vitality through activity and companionship.

"We have already seen significant interest in the development, with many homes already sold or reserved.”

Four houses were demolished to make way for the Lymington Gate complex at Stanford HillFour houses were demolished to make way for the Lymington Gate complex at Stanford Hill (Image: Pegasus Homes)

Facilities at the showpiece complex include a communal lounge and a guest suite for visiting friends and family.

The controversial decision fuelled a debate about the number of retirement properties being built in the town.

Speaking at the time, Cllr Barry Dunning said: "The powers that be seem intent on turning Lymington into an aged dormitory. Every road that leads into Lymington is lined with old people's homes, and that's not the image we want for the town."

Lymington Gate is at the western entrance to the town, almost opposite WaitroseLymington Gate is at the western entrance to the town, almost opposite Waitrose (Image: Newsquest)

An application to build 45 flats for people aged 60 and over was rejected by the district council in 2019.

The multi-million-pound scheme had been opposed by the town council and members of the influential Lymington Society - the area's conservation watchdog group.

People living near the site also lodged objections.

They criticised the scale and potential impact of the proposed development, claiming it would create extra traffic problems in the area as well as putting additional pressure on services for the elderly.

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A subsequent proposal to build 44 apartments on the site was refused in 2020.

Documents submitted in support of the subsequent appeal said: "The location makes this an excellent location for older persons’ housing.

“In delivering high-quality accommodation specifically suited to the needs of older people, it will play an important role in encouraging downsizing to free up under-occupied housing, which is identified as a significant problem in the New Forest.

“It will also provide older people with the opportunity to enhance their wellbeing through community living."