A CATHOLIC priest fighting plans to build student flats next to his church home in Bournemouth has labelled the proposed development “a horror story”.
Father Bruce Barnes, the parish priest at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Richmond Hill, is concerned that residents’ privacy will be shattered if the plans for 109 student flats go ahead.
The proposals seek to demolish the existing five-storey former post sorting office in Albert Road and replace it with shop units, an outdoor terrace and 109 student units for mature foreign language students.
They will go before a planning committee meeting today with a recommendation to refuse.
Father Barnes, who along with another priest resides at the church, said he hoped councillors accepted that recommendation.
He said he was concerned that little consideration had been given to the effect the development would have on them.
“We will be affected by the size of the building, which will be eight storeys high, and according to the plans there will be spiral staircases and windows overlooking our property and garden,” he said.
“There will only be four feet between my back gate and their back entrance. And the garden that separates us is place that people sit, meditate and enjoy quiet times.
“We also run a serenity group for drug and alcohol addicts in rehab. Their anonymity should be safeguarded. Altogether it’s an absolute horror story for those who live next door.”
He added the contemporary plans did nothing to respect the conservation area, which he said was already in a shabby and neglected state.
The applicants Poets LLP were approached for a comment but did not respond.
Town centre councillor Bob Chapman said: “I’m desperately keen to see something happen to that post office building but the scheme has to be right.
“With the exception of Bath Travel, Albert Road is empty. I want to see some redevelopment of the post office sorting office as soon as possible but the question of overlooking the presbytery has to be addressed.”