Mind the gap: that’s one of the views a committee has made in rejecting plans for an 80-bedroom hotel beside the A3 Buriton interchange.

The South Downs National Park Authority has slammed the brakes on outline plans for a hotel and cycle centre off the B2070 Greenway Lane roundabout.

Their planning committee felt the “fundamentally unacceptable” scheme by Amberleigh Projects failed to enhance the national park with concerns also being raised about water run-off and access arrangements.

Some suggested approval could lead to more development along the A3 and a sprawl that connects Petersfield with Buriton.

John Bell, director, said there has been “confirmed hotel operator interest” in the scheme, which has been several years in the pipeline, with supporters including British Cycling, Sustrans, and the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.

He claimed the development would meet a “long-standing and identified hotel need” and would not threaten businesses in Buriton.

He said: “It will boost the local economy and create jobs – Petersfield businesses need tourism and places like this to survive. 

“This is a unique opportunity that fully supports the national park’s principles and aims.”

Approval of the outline scheme would have secured the principle of development on the site and led to a full application. 

But there was little support at the meeting in Midhurst with Buriton parish councillor, Matt Wright, raising concerns about the proposed access a few dozen yards west of the roundabout. 

Jonathan Jones, of the Buriton Village Design Statement team, claimed the development would diminish the gap between Buriton and Petersfield and would threaten the South Downs International Dark Skies Reserve.

“Our first purpose is to conserve and enhance and I don’t believe this scheme does,” said committee member, John Hyland.

“This is a fundamentally unacceptable development on a greenfield site in the national park,” said member, Andrew Shaxton, minutes before the proposals were unanimously refused.