PLANS to demolish an ‘asbestos-riddled’ factory to make way for 11 new homes in Christchurch could be set for refusal.

Developer Landmark Estates have submitted a planning application to Christchurch council to replace the Priory Engineering factory in Purewell with 11 new homes.

More than 40 neighbours have signed a petition calling on Christchurch council to pass the plans at a meeting on Thursday.

But officers have recommended the scheme for refusal, due to concerns about flood risk.

They say the plans do not fulfil a so-called ‘sequential test’ and officers believe there are a number of alternative sites in the borough for housing development.

However, James Bradley, Landmark Estates’ managing director, said the scheme incorporates an “innovative design” that raises the level of the homes so that should flooding occur, the main residence is protected.

"The site hasn't flooded in more than a hundred years and nor was it affected by the recent adverse weather, but as it technically sits in a flood risk area we thought this was prudent," he said.

“The current site frontage presents an ugly factory gable end to an otherwise orderly and elegant street and our proposals will see this replaced with Georgian-style homes in keeping with the existing scale and design of the area.”

He added: “Local people like our approach but, clearly, they also want an asbestos-riddled factory from out of their midst.

“If our proposals are approved then we’ll use expert contractors to carefully remove the substance before demolishing the unit and bringing affordable and stylish homes to what remains an enduringly popular location.”

Joe Evans, who lives nearby, said: “It’s incongruous having a factory in the midst of such an elegant street and everyone’s behind the plans. “Besides, we need more affordable homes for young families to get on the housing ladder. “This seems like a good opportunity to get some built.”