BOSSES at the Sandy Balls resort told disappointed holidaymakers they had "little option" but to build new lodges on land currently used by visiting campers, caravanners and motor home owners.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the attraction has cancelled 250 holidays after gaining consent for a £10 million revamp.

The venue is now facing an angry backlash from some of its customers.

In an email sent to those who had bookings, CEO Carl Castledine said: "We are pleased to confirm that we will be spending in excess of £10m developing 108 brand-new static holiday home pitches for holiday accommodation. To do this we will be converting the touring and camping field over the course of this winter, with the new development opening next year on a date to be confirmed.

"While tenting and touring is loved by many of our guests, there were many factors that brought us to this decision.

"To some extent, touring and camping had almost become too popular and with modern tents, motor homes and caravans becoming larger than ever, the experience was worsening over time with guests becoming increasingly disappointed.

"On top of that, the New Forest Planning Authority have an express preference to reduce the amount of ‘footfall’ in the New Forest so the option to increase the touring and camping footprint and make more space for our guests was not available to us.

"In the end, to support the investment required, we were left with little option but to convert the area for accommodation."

Plans to build more than holiday lodges on the site were approved by the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) after sparking only five objections.

Steve Avery, the NPA’s executive director of strategy and planning, contested Mr Castledine's email and said the decision was "purely commercial".

He said: “Our planning policies support the redevelopment of existing holiday parks, providing there is no additional increase in units.

“Our policies don’t seek a reduction in footfall.

“The Sandy Balls application wasn’t to increase units, it was to upgrade the facilities and replace the touring pitches with lodges, reducing the number of pitches.

“It was a purely commercial decision and not driven by our policies.”

Sandy Balls was owned by the Westlake family for many years but was bought by Away Resorts, run by Mr Castledine, around 20 months ago.

Everyone affected by the holiday cancellations would be receiving a full refund within the next few days.