NEW plans have been submitted to demolish Bournemouth's former Belgravia Hotel.

Back in February councillors rejected a bid to build a four-storey block of 32 flats on the site in Christchurch Road, claiming the new building would be overbearing, to the delight of many current tenants.

A group had presented a deputation to the planning board saying they would be homeless by the loss of the c1870s former hotel, which presently contains 24 bedsits.

The new scheme by Pierfront Developments Ltd, the same firm, is for a four-storey block of 21 flats, mostly two-bed, and three houses on the site of the present coach house block.

According to the planning statement, the new block represents a 25 per cent reduction in size from the previous plan, and is modelled to have "the appearance of a Victorian villa". Parking spaces for 22 vehicles would be to the rear.

Councillors had also expressed concern about the loss of the existing building, in part due to the loss to the East Cliff Conservation Area, and in part due to concern over the tenants.

Board chairman and East Cliff ward councillor David Kelsey told members at the time: "I am fed up of developers just pulling buildings down for the sake of pulling them down" and "we all have a right to live somewhere".

Also, the council's conversation officer had advised the developer that "strong justification" would be required for the demolition to be approved due to the "positive contribution" of the former hotel to the conservation area.

In its application, Pierfront says the Belgravia's architectural value is reduced by later alterations, not least its 1930s mansard roof, and that, with the new block modelled after Victorian features of surrounding buildings, the demolition would have no impact on the conservation area.

The statement also quotes the council's 2015 strategic housing market assessment as saying Bournemouth requires 980 new homes per year to meet demand.

The statement says: "Refusing permission for the development of sites which are sustainable, fall in line with the provisions of National Planning Policy and cause no overriding harm, where they will make a contribution to the delivery of housing within the borough, however small, is not reasonable or justifiable.

"There is a dearth of sites within the borough which are both available and deliverable in order to make up for the evident shortfall in the council’s housing requirements."

Prior to becoming the Belgravia the hotel was known as Udale House, and it was originally in residential use.

Anecdotal evidence from a leaseholder claims it was once owned by Lipton, the Victorian grocer, tea magnate and competitive sailor.