HERITAGE experts have launched a campaign to save a former New Forest hotel partly designed by the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

The Victorian Society has criticised the latest application to bulldoze the Lyndhurst Park Hotel and replace it with a "run of the mill" block of flats.

But developers at PegasusLife say the building is only of "minor significance" - despite the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle connection.

Research by conservationists has revealed part of the complex was designed by the author, who lived at nearby Brook and was a frequent visitor to the hotel in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

In 1912, the building was refurbished based on ideas submitted by Conan Doyle, who took a keen interest in architecture and sketched out a design for a new facade.

Controversial plans to replace the hotel with 74 retirement apartments and 12 holiday lets were rejected earlier this year after more than 500 objections to the scheme were made.

PegasusLife later submitted an alternative application to build 75 flats and 15 affordable homes on the site.

But the new scheme has also attracted a large number of complaints from people living in the area.

The Victorian Society has also spoken out against plans to demolish the hotel, which it claims is the only surviving building designed by Conan Doyle.

The property was initially a country mansion called Glasshayes House, but was converted into a hotel in 1895.

A spokesperson from the Victorian Society said: "Archive material shows Conan Doyle visiting the hotel with his family in early 1912, and by autumn that year it had been transformed, with an entire third-floor extension and a new facade, all designed by [the author].

"The building as it currently stands is a near-perfect expression of his plans.

"Despite the unique historic significance of the building, it is unlisted and therefore unprotected against demolition - a threat that has become imminent with the submission of a planning application which seeks to demolish the entire site.

"The risk that Glasshayes Hotel may be replaced with a run of the mill block of flats it becoming ever more real."

The planning application states that the building, which has been vacant since 2014, is a heritage asset of 'minor significance'.