PLANS to build eight homes in a Hampshire town have been thrown out - despite claims the scheme would help keep the shopping centre alive.

New Forest District Council has refused to support an application by Crownshade Ltd to redevelop a site in Provost Street, Fordingbridge.

The land, which forms part of the Fordingbridge Conservation Area, is currently occupied by two bungalows.

A report produced by council planning officers accused the applicant of seeking consent for too many homes on the site - and described the properties themselves as "suburban units".

It added: "The proposal seeks a scattering of disparate housing units which bear little relationship to each other, or to surrounding buildings.

"The council accepts there is currently a need for additional housing within the district and does not dispute that the site is capable of accommodating more dwellings than are currently in situ.

"It is also acknowledged that the site is in an accessible town centre location and that social, economic and community benefits may be derived from developing the site in an optimum way. However, the proposed development goes beyond 'optimum'.

"The harm caused by the current proposal outweighs the public benefits of the development."

Fordingbridge Town Council had urged the authority to approve the proposal, saying it would make good use of a site which was "currently derelict".

Provost Street resident Peter Straton also supported the application.

He said: "Our community needs as many families, as soon as possible, to be able to walk into the centre of the town to shop, keep our town alive and stop more shops going broke."

Mr Straton said the site was currently occupied by only one person and urged the council to approve what he described as the "modest" scheme.