DEVELOPERS are planning to bulldoze a landmark hotel and replace it with up to 65 flats for the elderly, it has been revealed.

Hampshire-based PegasusLife has bought the 60-bed Lyndhurst Park Hotel, which closed earlier this year with the loss of more than 20 jobs.

A multi-million-pound plan to redevelop the site is likely to be submitted to the National Park Authority (NPA) in the next few weeks.

But the loss of a major tourist facility in the capital of the New Forest is likely to face strong opposition.

When plans to axe the hotel were revealed last year, representatives from New Forest Tourism Association and the district council said they were against the loss of service accommodation.

And the NPA confirmed that its planning policies aimed to prevent the demise of vital community facilities, including hotels.

Last night Mark Abbott, chairman of the parish council’s planning committee said: “We think there’s already too much old people’s accommodation in the area. What we need is more affordable accommodation for younger people.

“People aren’t over-happy about the potential loss of the hotel, even though the more modern end isn’t very beautiful.”

Based at King’s Worthy, near Winchester, PegasusLife specialises in building retirements flats for people aged over 55.

A company spokesman said: “We have purchased the site occupied by the former Lyndhurst Park Hotel with the intention of bringing forward proposals for beautifully and intelligently designed homes for older people.”

The spokesman said a public consultation exercise on the future of the site had already been carried out.

He added: “We will be holding further consultation activities with local residents and building on the feedback received from the first event. We intend to submit a planning application to the New Forest National Park Authority.

“We believe there is a real opportunity to create a groundbreaking development that sits in harmony with its surroundings.”

A Lyndhurst Chamber of Trade spokesman said it was impossible to gauge the potential impact on the village until a planning application had been submitted.

Set in four acres of landscaped grounds, the Lyndhurst Park Hotel has an outdoor tennis court, an oak-panelled restaurant and conference facilities.

The St James Hotel Group bought the three-star facility in March last year.

A few months later it announced it was selling the loss-making facility in a deal likely to result in the total redevelopment of the site.