PLANS to build 45 homes at a former Highcliffe caravan park were approved by councillors last week.

Christchurch planning committee heard Cobbs Holiday Park was no longer economically viable as a tourist attraction, and its owners were seeking permission to build a mix of three and four bedroom homes, along with several one and two bed flats for social housing.

Residents in the gallery expressed their fears about potential anti-social behaviour in the car park proposed by the access road off Gordon Road, but members voted to approve the layout of the site.

Councillor Peter Hall called on senior planning officer Alex Sebbinger to qualify his statement that it would be a ‘small loss’ to the town’s tourism.

The latter said: “The agent has advised us the park has ceased trading.

“Its overall contribution to tourism was not significant and we have received confidential information which confirmed that.”

Concerns were expressed by mayor John Lofts about the danger of flooding from Bure Brook, which runs through the site, and councillor Lesley Dedman suggested a report on the risk to be prepared.

However, Mr Sebbinger said this was unnecessary as the application had already been delayed for six months to satisfy the Environment Agency, which had provided a list of conditions.

Councillor Myra Mawbey called for the application to be refused. “It is out of character and there is not enough affordable housing, our county council core strategy says it should be up to 40 per cent, this has less than 30 per cent,” she said.

However, Mr Sebbinger advised that it would be ‘unreasonable’ to refuse the application on that basis, or on the basis of potential anti-social behaviour and noise, as it would be difficult to defend at an appeal hearing.

The family business was set up in 1929 by the current owner’s father and currently contains a mixture of static caravans and chalets.

Design proposals for the buildings will be submitted at a later date.