CIVIC chiefs are being recommended to approve a housing scheme on the site of an old public house, which could evolve into a flagship of national importance.

Eastleigh Housing Association is asking for permission to build 15 flats in a three-storey terraced block on the site frontage of the former Golden Hind pub in Twyford Road, Eastleigh.

The scheme includes eight flats specially designed for people with special needs within a linked two-storey block in the south east corner of the site.

Tomorrow, members of the council's Eastleigh local area committee will be told the provision of the eight units - specifically designed for the disabled - is a matter worthy of consideration as the accommodation will help to ease a very real social problem.

A planning officer's report adds: "The advice given by housing services is that this particular development could be a flagship scheme of national importance."

Last year, locals launched a Save Our Local Pub campaign in a vain bid to stop the Golden Hind from being sold for development.

Efforts were made to get listed status for the Twyford Road building - which was more than 100 years old and had links with two famous Eastleigh sportsmen, Olympic gold medal walker Tommy Green and British middleweight boxing champion Vince Hawkins.

However, despite claims that Eastleigh was losing its heritage, the bulldozers moved in to demolish the pub after culture minister Chris Smith scuppered the request to list the building.

The council has received three letters of objection to the redevelopment plans from nearby residents worried about issues including overlooking and loss of privacy, plus the height and design of the flats.

But councillors will be recommended to grant permission, subject to a string of conditions including the need to set back the building - or part of it - from Twyford Road to reduce the visual impact on the street scene.

The officer's report says: "The site is a very good piece of urban land that should be developed in a dense manner in order to satisfy the requirements of government guidance - although it must also be of sufficient quality to satisfy the requirements of the local plan.

"I consider that, in all but a few respects which we are still seeking to overcome, the application is an acceptable one for this particular locality, that has met all of the tests set for it."