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Major Hotel Expansion Boost for the New Forest


New Forest National Park Authority have given permission for a major expansion of the iconic Balmer Lawn Hotel in Brockenhurst.

The plan includes an extra 38 state of the art bedrooms, 22 new jobs, staff accommodation, a doubling of function room capacity up to 240, new Spa & Leisure facilities and substantial environmental mitigation including the planting of over 100 new trees.

Since buying the hotel over 23 years ago, the current owners, Chris and Alison Wilson, have invested significantly in turning around a hotel which at that time had suffered from many years of neglect by its then corporate owners. In recent years two New Forest hotels have closed with the loss of nearly 100 bedrooms along with the community facilities, jobs and supply chain benefits to the local economy that went with them.

“We are extremely pleased that 3 years hard work has resulted in Balmer Lawn Hotel now being able to compete with other top New Forest properties,” said owner Chris Wilson. “For too many years the news has been about the loss of hotel bedrooms in our fabulous destination, so it was critical this plan allowed us continue to improve the commercial viability of the hotel, the quality and scope of our guest offer and support the local community and environment on a sustainable basis.”

“We couldn’t be more delighted, humbled and grateful for all the support and goodwill we’ve received from local residents, Brockenhurst Parish Council, District Councillors and the National Park Authority. The whole exercise of obtaining planning permission has been quite daunting but given this is a large scheme for a village like Brockenhurst, it’s been a real community effort. We’ve had lots of supporting statements and not one objection, we couldn’t be more thrilled” added Alison.

CEO of local tourism body Go New Forest, Anthony Climpson commented, “It’s wonderful news that as local owners, Chris and Alison can now continue their huge and ongoing commitment to the long-term renaissance of one of our most important and prestigious hotels. We have worked tirelessly to support them in their planning journey because continued improvement is essential and not only are they committed to providing the best possible visitor experience, they both also truly believe in supporting the special and unique qualities of the New Forest itself.”

There are many people that we need to thank on our journey to receiving this permission –  our architect Steve Sherlock of Sherlock Architecture and Jane Keningley of Sherlock Architecture.

Chris commented, “Since reopening on the 4 July the hotel has been exceptionally busy and our comprehensive approach to COVID19 awareness and safety has been very well received and appreciated by our clients”.

Cover image: Balmer Lodge lawn (c)

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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