LEGAL action could be taken against a controversial decision to approve up to 400 new homes in the New Forest.

Ringwood Town Council will enlist the service of legal professionals after the district authority approved Taylor Wimpey’s plan to redevelop land north of Hightown Road.

The development was narrowly approved by the New Forest District Council’s (NFDC) planning committee in March, after which Ringwood councillor and former mayor Tony Ring dramatically resigned in protest.

Four months after the decision was made, a meeting of Ringwood’s planning committee elected to seek legal advice where it was said “a win would mean NFDC’s decision could be quashed”.

Up to 400 homes along with three hectares of employment land and recreational green space will be built at the site.

Planners say the project will create “a safe, vibrant and healthy new community”.

Bournemouth Echo: Artist impression for land north of Hightown Road, Ringwood.Artist impression for land north of Hightown Road, Ringwood. (Image: Taylor Wimpey)

However, hundreds of objections were lobbied against the scheme from residents and councillors concerned the town’s infrastructure would be unable to cope with the new influx of inhabitants.

Ringwood Junior School previously said its student roll was full and it had no capacity for more pupils.

The scheme was ultimately approved as members said the demand for new homes was great enough, and deemed provision for 50 per cent affordable homes as acceptable.

At the town council planning meeting on July 7, committee chair Cllr Philip Day said the first decision was not about whether to challenge NFDC’s approval of the scheme, but whether to take the first step in receiving legal advice on the merits of the case.

There followed a discussion on the purpose of getting the advice, the timescales involved and the potential costs.

Bournemouth Echo: Ringwood Gateway building, home of the town council.Ringwood Gateway building, home of the town council.

Meeting minutes read: “A win would mean NFDC’s decision could be quashed and the application reconsidered, but if NFDC overcame the procedural issues identified, it could result in the same decision being made on the application.

“Some felt that to seek legal advice on this matter was a step they wished to take given the impact this major development will have on the town.”

Members agreed by majority to request legal advice with costs limited to £1,000. Should a further decision be required on whether to proceed with the legal route, members agreed it should be considered by full council.

The decision is subject to confirmation by the council’s policy and finance committee which next meets on July 19.

Work on the site is expected to begin in 2025.