WORK will start this autumn on building 52 luxury apartments for the elderly on the site of Test Valley Borough Council’s former Romsey offices.

The borough’s planning control committee approved Renaissance Retirement’s revised scheme, just a month after the southern area committee turned down the firm’s original proposals.

Members had considered the proposed development too big and feared it would have had an overbearing impact on a neighbouring bungalow.

Renaissance went back to the drawing board and reduced the size of the design which originally included 54 flats at the Duttons Road site.

Despite protest from residents in Station Road, who feared they would be overlooked by the block of one and two-bedroom flats, members of the planning control committee voted unanimously in favour of the amended scheme.

Councillor Ann Tupper said: “I would like to say I am extremely pleased to see that changes that have been made. It is refreshing to see that the applicant came back these plans which make a difference.”

The development will be known as Fleur de Lis Romsey and facilities will include an owners’ lounge and guest suite.

Renaissance agreed to fit two lifts in the development after the originals plans were criticised for having only one.

A delighted Renaissance MD, Robert Taylor said: “I’d like to thank our planners Tanner and Tiller and Aspire Architects, as well as the council for approving such an exciting scheme that meets the living needs of local people.”

He added: “The number and proportion of the very elderly population within the district is projected to increase substantially over the next two decades. Sheltered housing is designed to provide for the needs of older people and the majority of its occupiers originate from a four mile radius. Typically our owners will be moving from larger, under occupied properties, thereby benefitting local housing supply by freeing up family homes.”

A showroom is due to open at the Duttons Road site in February, say the developers.