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Lyndhurst Park Hotel: The haunting past and the modern future of the crumbling hotel – HampshireLive

Plans approved this week will see the crumbling hotel converted into nearly 80 homes.
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The future of an historic Hampshire hotel site has been debated again after proposals were put forward to convert it into homes.
This week Hoburne Developments had their application for 79 new properties on the site of Lyndhurst Park Hotel approved by the New Forest National Park Authority's planning committee.
It comes after plans by the previous owners, PegasusLife, were rejected by the NPA. The authority ruled that their proposals for retirement flats would not "cater for local needs".
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While the proposal was unanimously passed, there have been numerous objections to the development. Many of these revolved around the hotel's history and links to the creator of the Sherlock Holmes novels Arthur Conan Doyle.
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But it is not just the famed author who has links to the New Forest hotel. From politicians to music icons, the Hampshire hotel has reportedly played host to many a famous figure.
The crumbling accommodation has also become the subject of local legends with haunting tales of ghosts wandering the hotel halls.
The origins of the present structure date back to the 19th century, when George Buck built it as a home for him and his wife.
It later passed into the possession of Richard Fitzgeorge de Stacpoole, 1st Duc de Stacpoole.
Stacpoole ran a local smuggling ring from the house and in 1847 newspapers reported he barricaded himself in the property when it was raided by authorities.
Later in the 19th century the mansion became a home for railway entrepreneur Charles Castleman, and it was not until 1895 that it was sold as the Grand Hotel.
During the works to convert it into a hotel, construction workers said they could see the face of Duc de Stacpoole staring through the windows of the house.
Fitzgeorge is also said to haunt the hotel every year on the date of his death. Legend has it that music can be heard in parts of the building from the annual ball he holds for the dead.
Perhaps one of the hotel's most famous guests was Arthur Conan Doyle, who became a regular visitor.
He also sketched out designs for a third storey extension and a new façade to the building. These plans were later made into a reality when an extension to the hotel was made using his designs.
This historical significance was used by campaigners to try and halt the development by Hoburne after Conan Doyle's sketched from 1912 were unearthed.
Olivia Stockdale, conservation adviser for the Victorian Society, said the sketches were "the only known surviving example of Conan Doyle’s solo architectural work and a tangible representation of his spiritualist beliefs.
"This bizarre yet fascinating feature should be protected and championed in a redevelopment scheme not swept away."
In 1970 the property was renamed as the Lyndhurst Park Hotel and had extensions added to develop it into a 60-bed hotel.
Notable guests who reportedly stayed at the hotel over the years include Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, pop royalty The Beatles and Lord Carnarvon of Highclere Castle.
Since 2014 the hotel has laid empty and parts of the building started to collapse in 2020.
Despite the literary links the hotel has, attempts to have it listed as a protected building were rejected by Historic England.
However, the plans for the 79 new properties will, according to the plans, "retain the historic façade of the building and reintroduce some of the lost detailing" that is referenced in Arthur Conan Doyle's sketches.
The original plans also proposed to put in place parking spaces, up to five commercial units and the potential for holiday lets.
There have been objections to plans based on the environmental impact the development could have on the surrounding wildlife and forestry.
In response developers have outlined the "opportunity for ecological enhancements within the site" and made provisions for extensive landscaping.
Speaking at the NPA meeting, NPA member Richard Taylor acknowledged the challenges of the hotel site but stated: "I am fairly convinced by the application and the way that it addresses a difficult site and comes up with a good solution for it."
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