A PLANNING consultant convinced councillors to change their stance to allow a mixed-use development at a former RAF camp.

As previously reported, New Forest District Council gave permission for up to 80 homes and 11 industrial units at the former RAF Sopley base in Bransgore, after years of resisting develop-ment there.

Many of the buildings on the site were in poor repair while the debate over its future dragged on.

Some locals commenting on the planning application called the site an “eyesore”.

Bournemouth-based Ken Parke Planning Consultants was responsible for arguing through the Local Plan process that government policy would support re-development, provided there was no additional impact on the green belt.

The council accepted the argument and restrictive policies were dropped during the Local Plan process.

A statement from Ken Parke Planning Consultants said: “This step change in approach from the council has enabled a process of negotiation which has resulted in a development strategy for the site being granted by way of outline planning permission.”

Mr Parke called the decision a “win-win for the council, the local community and the landowners, all of whom are keen to see the future of the site resolved”.

The development will include new housing, including affordable homes, as well as employment opportunities and a footpath into the centre of Bransgore.

The consultant said: “Our positive approach and arguments in relation to the correct application of planning policy has enabled a site with an uncertain future to be brought forward for beneficial development.”

The council had previously taken enforcement action against businesses operating on the site, but others were granted lawful development certificates.

RAF Sopley was used to house some of the Vietnamese boat people when they arrived in the UK in the late 1970s.