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Balmer Lawn Hotel gets the green light for £4m expansion

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Balmer Lawn Hotel in the New Forest is to get a major expansion boost after securing planning permission to substantially grow the footprint of the business.

After submitting a proposal in January, owners of the hotel Chris and Alison Wilson, have now been given the go ahead to add 38 extra bedrooms, create a new spa and leisure facility, double function room capacity and plant over 100 new trees.

The facilities will create 22 new jobs for the area.

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“We are extremely pleased that three years hard work has resulted in Balmer Lawn Hotel now being able to compete with other top New Forest properties,” said owner Chris Wilson. “For too many years the news has been about the loss of hotel bedrooms in our fabulous destination, so it was critical this plan allowed us continue to improve the commercial viability of the hotel, the quality and scope of our guest offer and support the local community and environment on a sustainable basis.”

The project will help enable the hotel to win more business, according to the Wilsons, who have owned Balmer Lawn for more than 20 years, and help the New Forest to compete better with the likes of Winchester, Southampton and Bournemouth, when it comes to hosting larger functions.

The hotel is headed up by general manager, Michael Clitheroe and comprises 54 bedrooms. The new bedrooms would be housed in a two-storey building on site and take the total room count to 92.

The current Beaulieu function room will be expanded from its capacity of 120 to 140, opening up more opportunities to cater for bigger parties.

There will also be new staff accommodation building, with six double bedrooms.

The Saltus Spa offering will be extended, merged with the Leisure Club and a steam room, ice room and hydrotherapy.

As part of the hotel’s commitment to its environmental impact, a living roof and solar and photovoltaic panels will be installed, alongside the planting of 100 new trees.

The owners and Clitheroe have been working on the scheme for three years, with architect Steve Sherlock and Jane Keningley of Sherlock Architecture, creating the idea for the new build.

Wilson adds: “Since reopening on the 4th July the hotel has been exceptionally busy and our comprehensive approach to COVID19 awareness and safety has been very well received and appreciated by our clients.”

The Balmer Lawn Hotel expansion plan means the hotel will now become the largest bedroom stock and event space in the New Forest National Park.

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Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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