A FORMER community centre in Somerford will be replaced by nine new homes.

The plans for the former Somerford Community Centre on the corner of Southey Road and Amethyst Road were given the go-ahead last week by planners at Christchurch council.

The move follows a long-running campaign to ensure a development on the site is sympathetic to the local community.

In 2011 Sovereign Housing Association had plans to demolish the hall and build a two-storey office block, approved on appeal following refusal from the council.

Residents had opposed the plans over concerns about the loss of the facility and the prospect of offices too close to people’s homes.

But last year, sour relations between the housing association and residents dramatically improved, leading to revised proposals for schemes on the estate.

All the nine properties will be affordable homes.

The plans were drawn up by Christchurch-based Aspire Architects, along with a design group including Somerford residents and local councillors.

The new development will consist of a terrace of four two-bedroom houses, one three-bedroom house and two one-bedroom maisonettes, and a separate block with two two-bedroom maisonettes.

As part of the plans to develop the old community centre site, Sovereign has funded the refurbishment of the former United Reformed Church on Southey Road and has transferred the lease to a residents’ committee.

“We are really pleased that we have passed another milestone in our efforts to improve the provision of affordable homes in Somerford,” said Luke Bingham, Sovereign’s regional director for Dorset.

“We’ve worked hard with Christchurch Borough Council, local councillors and residents to ensure that the homes we are providing meet local housing needs, and we were pleased with the overwhelmingly positive feedback we had for this development.”

Twenty-seven affordable homes that Sovereign is building at nearby Scotts Green are almost completed and should be occupied by the end of the year.