PLANS to turn a redundant New Forest farm into a £500,000 arts centre have taken another leap forward.

Totton town councillors have voted to support proposals to convert historic Hanger Farm, pictured, into a major music and drama facility.

They also highlighted the need to press ahead with the project before the buildings are ruined by vandalism and decay.

A report to the planning committee confirmed that a timber-framed barn had been derelict for many years and was now at "serious risk".

The report said the main user of the new centre would be Totton College, which planned to stage a full range of performing arts.

It added: "The centre will be a home for Totton Drama Festival.

"The building may be used by local drama groups for productions and rehearsals, and will also play host to touring companies bringing a wide variety of performing arts to the West Totton area."

Councillor Edith Randall expressed concern about plans to build additions to Hanger Farm.

She said: "We don't want to add so many modern bits and pieces that we lose the ancient barn at the centre of the scheme."

Town clerk Derek Briggs sought to reassure Cllr Randall, saying the proposals had all been agreed by New Forest District Council's conservation team.

Committee chairman George Dart said: "If something isn't done with these buildings almost immediately there won't be much left to preserve."

Councillors also supported plans to build eight tennis courts, a paddling pool and a children's play area near Hanger Farm.

A report to the committee said: "An existing play area is unimaginatively laid out and sited in a location that is not overlooked. It can be hijacked by teenagers, making it insecure for small children."

The district council will determine both applications.