PLANS to convert the long-shut Queens Hotel in Selborne into a field studies centre for the village’s Gilbert White Museum have been refused.
The decision by South Downs National Park Authority planning committee came after members heard the closed High Street pub was becoming yet more run down.
Derek Warwick Developments owns it and spokesman Guy Macklin said: “We are saddened for residents, visitors and the Gilbert White museum that a few noisy objectors have brought more long-term misery to this beautiful village.
“For over five years The Queens Hotel has been deteriorating, becoming an eyesore.
“Should planning continue to be refused, the village will stagnate, and what benefit is an undeveloped derelict building?”
Museum trustees chairman Khalid Aziz added: “We are disappointed, as it would have been a significant boost to the museum and we are in discussion with the developer to move forward.”
The scheme would have seen the hotel and its barn converted into five hotel suites, a field studies centre, a bar, a shop and a detached house.
National park planners recommended the plan should be approved, but the committee refused, saying it was an over-development of the site.
Committee member Diana van der Klugt said: “The museum is a very worthy charitable enterprise but I don’t see how their need to extend their facilities and make more money meets the requirement to demonstrate local need to serve the community.”
Three speakers for the proposal, and three against it, spoke at the meeting in Midhurst’s South Downs Centre.
Selborne parish councillor Joanna Clay said: “The council strongly objects. Before the developer bought The Queens it was a renovated, thriving village pub and popular hotel. The museum’s commercial aims are not relevant to this application.”
Village resident Andrew Roberts said: “The reason the village has been deprived of the Queens is down to the tactical behaviour of the applicants.”
Geraldine Dawson of Save The Queens Ltd added: “Investors from the village are ready to buy it and run it for its lawful use.”