CONTROVERSIAL plans to replace part of a pub beer garden with housing have been thrown out.

Civic chiefs have rejected an application to build a pair of three-bedroom properties in the grounds of the Wheatsheaf Hotel at Christchurch Road, New Milton.

Objectors had included the Rev Andrew Bailey, vicar of the nearby St Mary Magdalene Church.

Mr Bailey warned that the loss of a "significant amount" of the beer garden would have a negative impact on the pub. He also said the proposed development would damage views from the church and the graveyard.

"The proposed development is within a conservation area and would not enhance it in any way," added Mr Bailey.

Now New Forest District Council has refused the application, submitted by Cordage 23 Ltd.

Quoting comments made by objectors a report to councillors said: "Beer garden events will be severely impacted if the garden is reduced by two thirds, as is proposed. Footfall will be greatly reduced and could prove to be the death knell for our community pub."

The report described the proposed properties as "very standard house types" that would fail to reflect their surroundings.

It added: "No significant enhancements are proposed to boundary treatments or landscaping to mitigate the identified harm to the character and appearance of the conservation area, the listed building setting or local distinctiveness.

The report confirmed that the proposed development would result in the loss of much of the beer garden.

"This is a concern, considering the value of external space to eating and drinking establishments during the pandemic," it said.

The benefits provided by the provision of extra housing would be outweighed the harm caused to the character and appearance of the Old Milton Green Conservation Area and the setting of St Mary Magdalene Church, added the report.

"The siting, mass and appearance of the proposal coupled with its overdeveloped form, with little in the way of meaningful and native landscaping is unacceptable."

The application, which included a proposal to reconfigure the Wheatsheaf's parking arrangements, was supported by pub tenants Julie and Steve Smither.

They cited the cost of maintaining the existing car park and said housing would be a better use of the space.