DEVELOPER Richard Carr has called on Bournemouth council to approve his plans to convert a derelict pub into cheap housing.

Cherry Orchard Estates (Portman) Ltd has applied to refurbish the former Portman Hotel in Ashley Road, Boscombe, creating 23 flats and a separate house.

In a letter to councillors, (published in full here) the borough planning department and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, Mr Carr said he feared the scheme would be turned down and the "historic" building could end up being burned down by "the anti-social brigade".

"I am led to understand that the planning officer is minded to refuse this application on the grounds that the ground floor apartments will have lack of privacy," he said, adding that ground floor flats were approved at the nearby development on the Royal British Legion site last year.

"The sellers of this building have protected it from vandalism since owning it and only yesterday youths tried to set it on fire again, surely redevelopment of this historic building into much-needed starter homes is better than it being boarded up and left to its fate in the hands of the anti-social brigade who have tried their best to burn it down over the past year."

He said he had included Mr Javid to demonstrate "what we, the development community, are up against".

When contacted by the Echo the council's planning department issued a response.

Development management team leader Simon Gould said: "The application is still under consideration and at this time no formal recommendation has been made by the local planning authority."

Mr Carr, chief executive of developer Fortitudo, said his firm had agreed to buy the Portman site subject to planning permission being secured.

He expressed frustration with Bournemouth planning department last year after his flats scheme for the Green in Branksome Wood Road was rejected, and his later appeal was dismissed by the planning inspectorate.

The Portman Hotel has been associated with controversy in recent years with neighbours complaining about loud parties going on late into the night, and a job advert issued online for a 'topless barmaid'.

In December 2016 owner Marston's Brewery ended a four year tenancy - a spokesman saying: "We are currently recruiting for new tenants, ensuring we can get the pub open again as soon as possible."

However, according to the new application, the pub has been marketed since with no success.

The flats would comprise three studios, 15 one-bed and five two-bed.