PROPOSALS to demolish one of Bournemouth’s original seaside villas and replace it with a block of 14 flats have sparked a wave of protest.

English Heritage, the Bournemouth Civic Society and the Victorian Society are among those expressing concerns about the potential loss of Radcliffe Court in Manor Road, East Cliff.

The derelict building is in a poor state and the developers argue it would not be viable to refurbish it.

The application has sparked 44 letters of objection but planning officers are recommending it for approval. Councillors on Bournemouth’s planning board will make a decision at their meeting today.

Francis Kelly, English Heritage’s inspector of historic buildings and areas, said: “We accept that Radcliffe Court is perhaps not the best of Bournemouth’s Victorian seaside villas – and that it has clearly fallen on hard times.

“However, the need for taking the exceptional step of demolition does not appear to have been demonstrated.

“We have no reason to believe that, treated sympathetically, it could not once more aspire to graciousness and dignity and, what’s more, inspire others to better value the Victorian heritage of Bournemouth.”

Ken Mantock, of Bournemouth Civic Society, said: “The Civic Society believes Radcliffe Court, shamefully neglected for years, should be restored and converted to high quality apartments. It is an important part of the East Cliff’s Victorian heritage.”

But Ken Parke, who is the planning agent for developer Lynwood Park Ltd, said: “The proposals replace a derelict building and we have demonstrated that it is simply not viable to seek to retain and refurbish the existing building. The application is accompanied by significant amounts of evidence which by way of objective analysis demonstrate that the proposed replacement building is appropriate to character and does not result in unacceptable harm to the neighbouring properties.

“The council have subjected the proposals to detailed scrutiny are content that the proposals do not result in harm, hence the recommendation to grant.”