DEVELOPERS given permission to build 36 flats in Hythe have angered locals by drawing up plans for a bigger complex on the same site.

Churchill Retirement Living is now seeking consent for 43 flats on land currently occupied by PC Building Supplies, which is planning to move to Hardley Industrial Estate.

The scheme is part of a wider redevelopment project that also includes a new £7 million Lidl supermarket in Hythe village centre.

Churchill’s original application was approved by New Forest District Council in May last year.

One of the South Street residents who objects to the new proposal is Tracy Pittilo, whose letter to the council says: “The developers are trying to squeeze even more people into a small, overcrowded space which will be vastly over-developed.”

Fellow protester John Elliott adds: “The initial planning application was for a two-storey block, which was in keeping with nearly all the surrounding properties. The revised application to increase this to three storeys is not.”

Mr Elliott’s letter accuses Churchill of being greedy by adding more flats in a bid to boost the profit it stands to make from the scheme.

Planning officers employed by the council have also raised concerns.

Their initial assessment of the new application says the scheme approved last year would benefit the village by replacing a “visually unsympathetic” development with one that was more appropriate to its setting.

The report adds: “While aspects of the development now proposed would be similar to the previously approved scheme, there would be significant differences. The development as a whole would now have a more overtly three-storey character.

“Hythe has a strong two-storey character and a large building, predominantly three-storeys high, would be visually quite intrusive alongside the more historic buildings in Hythe Conservation Area.”

But the application cites the country’s ageing population and says the flats will ease the shortage of purpose-built accommodation for the elderly.

It adds: “There would be no negative impacts resulting from the proposed development.”

As reported in the Daily Echo, the new Lidl store - expected to create about 40 jobs - is due to be built on neighbouring land.

Last year Lidl’s initial application was rejected by one vote after district councillors criticised the design of the design. Four months later a revised scheme was given the go-ahead after sparking massive support, including a petition signed by almost 3,970 people.