CONCERNED residents and Poole Quay Forum (PQF) members fear the council's decision to back plans for flats at a former Hamworthy steelworks could "open the floodgates to inappropriate development."

Borough of Poole's (BOP) planning committee agreed proposals to build two blocks of almost 100 apartments at the former James Bros site in Station Road.

The plans, by businessman Richard Carr's Fortitudo company, included a 10-storey block and had been recommended for refusal by council planning officers. However, following representations, planning committee members approved the scheme at a meeting last month.

PQF chairman Bill Constance said: "When the decision was announced, we were shell-shocked.

"The borough’s own planning officer had firmly recommended refusal. The applicant had failed to provide vital information to demonstrate the impact of their proposal, failed to produce CGIs to show how the building would appear from critical viewpoints, and given insufficient detail on shading.

"In the opinion of their own officer, the scheme would 'dominate the neighbouring buildings' but the planning committee waved it through anyway."

Meanwhile, Mr Carr told the Echo: "It was a democratic decision by the committee after a presentation was made by myself and our planning consultants Chapman Lily."

Mr Constance says while PQF actively supports regeneration in the town, the borough planning committee's decision to ignore their own planning policies has "opened the floodgates to inappropriate development and other developers will now point to this consent to justify their own applications."

PQF says it spent three years working to establish a set of principles for regenerating the area - which were approved by national planning inspectors eight months ago.

Now the PQF - which is a registered charity - has written a formal letter of objection to council leader Janet Walton expressing a lack of confidence in the planning committee.

Proposals to build five blocks of 93 flats at the site were first approved in 2008. The scheme was partially implemented with the construction of Compass Point North.

The remainder of the land, which fronts Station Road, is currently vacant. Three blocks, as yet unbuilt, were granted permission as part of the 2008 application.

Two of these blocks containing 44 flats are due to be constructed on the southern part of the site. It is this part of the site where the latest development, of 42 one-bed and 54-two bed flats, will go.