A 157FT tower block is set to become Poole’s tallest building.

The 14-storey town centre development containing 203 flats will overtake neighbouring Barclays House by 7ft after planning consent was granted last week.

St John’s House, the former HMRC office on Serpentine Road, will be demolished as a result and units for three restaurants or cafes and one shop will also be erected.

“This is a ground-breaking project for Poole which will start the transformation of the town centre,” said Gareth Hooper, CEO of planning agents DPP.

“Its height and prominence coupled with the principle of high density residential development in a sustainable location makes it a first for the town.

“Crucially, however, it also recognises that the housing needs of the borough can only be met through a combination of traditional housing and this type of high density mixed use scheme located centrally.

“Not only will the proposals make a significant contribution to the area’s housing needs but the apartments will boost the vitality and viability of the town centre.”

Mr Hooper told the planning board that the site is in a “gateway location” which will “provide a catalyst for the regeneration of the town centre”.

Town centre ward councillor Andy Garner-Watts described the project as “exciting”.

“The site currently is dilapidated, it’s boarded up and I believe rough sleepers are using it,” said Cllr Garner-Watts.

“This is a thoroughfare for the train station which hundreds of people use every day.”

And planning board chairman, Cllr Peter Pawlowski, said: “I think it is a bold design, it is exciting and I think it will improve the street scene in that area. It is very welcome in the town centre.”

Cllr Pawlowski said he had “no problem with the height whatsoever” and felt it was appropriate for the location.

“These are new starter homes and that is something we desperately need as well as affordable homes,” he added.

The building will include 58 studio flats, 92 one-bed flats, 49 two-bed flats and four three-bed flats.

It will also have a residents’ fitness suite, 90 on-site parking spaces, bike storage and a roof garden.

The plan was backed unanimously by the borough’s planning board and received no objections from residents.