PLANS for the Wessex Hotel site are back before planners, but with no reprieve for its ballroom.

Earlier this year Bournemouth's planning board deferred the scheme for a new 215-bed hotel and 88 flats arranged in three blocks on the site in West Cliff Road, citing a need for better accommodation and community facilities.

The bid had attracted 43 letters of objection, many bewailing the loss of the existing hotel's ballroom, claiming there are no equivalent facilities elsewhere in the town.

The revised scheme has won the backing of planning officers, however those hoping for retention of the existing ballroom in the new plans will be disappointed.

In the report, planning officer Charles Raven states: "Further representations were made by local residents as to the loss of the ballroom facility within the proposed redevelopment.

"However, on this point, your head of planning previously clarified that the existing ballroom facility was an ancillary function of the tourism use and beyond the remit of planning control."

The meeting had heard that as the current hotel operator could choose to close the ballroom at will without council approval, its retention could not be made a condition of development.

Mr Raven said the revised plans showed an increase in the number of beds at the hotel and accommodation of "a significantly higher standard".

Also, he said: "The proposed leisure space area within the development (687 sqm for restaurant, bar and multi-function suite) present a viable opportunity for an operator based on the evidence submitted."

Developer Inland Homes has claimed the scheme is a partial restoration of the site to its appearance at the start of the previous century, when it hosted three villas on separate plots.

The company claims the hotel is not viable in its current form, and its sprawling size makes it expensive to maintain.

Bournemouth Civic Society has expressed concern over the loss of the existing building, and, in a resubmission of its complaint, has urged that the interior of the hotel be examined for features of architectural importance.

However, as the hotel is not listed its interior is not protected by planning legislation.