City councillors have today approved plans for a major redevelopment at a historic site in Bishop's Waltham.

The planning committee unanimously backed the scheme by Beechcroft for a 66-bedroom care home, 38 assisted-living flats, 19 family homes and 12 affordable homes at Station Road. Abbey Field, next to the palace, will be cleared of self-seeded trees and become a public open space.

The plan will see the conversion of the historic Abbey Mill into four flats.

The site was at the centre of a controversy around five years ago when Sainsbury's proposed a new supermarket, an issue that divided the market town.

READ MORE HERE: City councillors set to make decision on Bishop's Waltham proposal

The Beechcroft scheme initially attracted 39 objections with many opposing the proposed demolition of Abbey Mill. The latest plan has retained the mill and the latest scheme had 26 objections including Bishop's Waltham Museum Trust. Bishop's Waltham Parish Council was in favour.

Concerns were raised by councillors on the planning committee about the lack of a pedestrian crossing on Winchester Road near the scheme. Cllr Angela Clear, who represents Southwick and Wickham, said: "The lack of a crossing is a great disappointment I think a crossing is necessary there."

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The plan will also see the diversion of  the headwaters of the River Hamble from South Pond into a new larger culvert through the site which ws part of the medieval dam.

Cllr David McLean, who represents the town, raised the issue of the state of the pond which is silting up and so less able to hold large quantities of water. Beechcroft owns the pond and said they have designed a development which can cope with a one in 1,000-year storm.

Cllr Jane Rutter, who represents The Worthys, spoke of the need " to maintain the pond and the dam. If you don't it is going to be disastropus."

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She said she hoped it would not have restricted public access. "I'm keen that this should not be seen as a gated development, exclurive to residents, that local people will feel they can walk through the development and that will not be discouraged."

Giles Brockbank, from Ridge and Partners, the agent for Beechcroft, said it would not be a gated community and the public would be able to use a footbridge into the development. "If you are wandering around the site unnecessarily that is where we will maintain a degree of security. It is not that people can't walk in but it is giving us the ability to monitor them."