PLANNING chiefs have given Richard Carr’s proposals for a three-storey flat complex in the Ashley Cross Conservation Area the green light.

Borough of Poole (BOP) councillors even voted to remove a condition on the plans, which had been added by council officers and would have limited the building’s ground floor to restaurant and cafe use.

Speaking at yesterday’s planning committee, before members voted on the scheme, Mr Carr argued this clause, imposed to prevent the ground floor housing a convenience store without further planning consent, would have limited the commercial opportunities at the site.

He said: “As you may all be aware, Jamie Oliver - as mentioned in the weekend press - has had some severe difficulties with his restaurant. And generally casual dining restaurants are suffering.

“If the permitted development rights on the ground floor are taken away that would stop us letting this to a retail operator or as a convenience store.”

Cllr Emma Williams, one of the planning members who agreed, said: “I think it looks fabulous and has great parking provision over the road.

“But I don’t think we should include any of these limits on use.”

Meanwhile, Cllr Drew Mellor, who argued the restaurant clause should also be dropped, said: “I’d rather not impose restrictions like this, we should let the market decide.”

Mr Carr told committee members: “The residential accommodation above, which I think is the most important part of the scheme, is all geared towards starter homes.

“All of these 22 apartments will be available on the right to buy scheme, and be exempt from stamp duty. So young people wishing to buy a home would probably be able to get into one of these apartments for less than £10,000.”

Planning committee member Cllr Elaine Atkinson also argued limiting the ground floor to only restaurant and cafe use would be too restrictive, and may even harm other bars and restaurants in the Ashley Cross area.

She added: “I am delighted to welcome units which people will be able to access through the right to buy scheme.”

The proposal from Fortitudo Ltd for Commercial Road, Ashley Cross, Poole, could still see a cafe or restaurant built on the ground floor, but other business and retail use will also be able to be considered. The complex will include sixteen flats above, with a further building with six flats built at the rear.

Currently the site is occupied by an office building, the former Black and White car dealership and a detached shop and flat.

Officers had recommended granting planning permission.

A report to the committee explained the enlarged proposal brought a ‘degree of harmony’ to the area as the building stretches along Commercial Road.

The report also highlighted highway concerns, because of the lack of allocated parking in the plans. However, officers conceded there were good bus and rail links locally..