AN Edwardian villa currently used as offices could be converted into 21 studio flats.

The building, at 1 Poole Road in Bournemouth, until recently housed Turners Solicitors LLP, which back in February put forward plans to demolish the building and build a new block of 15 flats.

The firm had already been granted 'prior approval' to convert the building, which sits within the West Cliff and Poole Hill Conservation Area, into nine flats, however the demolition bid was withdrawn earlier this year.

The new conversion scheme, which is seeking prior approval to confirm whether it needs formal planning permission, has been put forward by Elliott Heron Ltd - the director of which is developer Philip Oram.

According to the planning statement the "conversion of the building is considered to be appropriate as the traditional character of the existing buildings and the organic pattern of the conservation area would be maintained and thus, would represent less than substantial harm".

The statement says: "In this instance, the public benefits of the scheme will be the creation of residential development that will preserve the special character of the West Cliff and Poole Hill Conservation Area, whilst making more efficient use of previously developed urban land.

"The internal studio arrangement layouts have been carefully designed within the existing building perimeters to ensure satisfactory living conditions for new residents, whilst also maintaining the amenity enjoyed by surrounding buildings."

According to the plans the site would have 21 parking spaces.

If council officers agree there is no need for planning permission the development will be able to proceed. Otherwise, the developer will need to submit an application for change of use and permission for internal alterations.

The council's guidance favours the retention of Victorian and Edwardian buildings in the conservation area, despite the fact that many have been subject to out-of-character extensions over the years.