BOURNEMOUTH council says it has full authority to decide the fate of an historic barn earmarked for demolition.

The borough plans to knock down the sixteenth century Cob Barn as part of its A338 Wessex Fields link junction plan, which is currently with the council planning department for consideration.

At a full council meeting on Tuesday resident and campaigner against the scheme Susan Chapman said: "At the last full council meeting Cllr Broadhead stated that the council was seeking further legal advice as to whether the council has the right to grant itself permission to demolish the Cob Barn, situated in Holdenhurst Village Conservation Area."

She asked for details of the legal advice, and Cllr Philip Broadhead, cabinet member for economic growth, outlined guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government that councils can knock down conservation area buildings when demolition is "part of a wider scheme".

"If the application is solely for the demolition then a planning permission will need to be submitted to the Secretary of State, but not if it is part of a wider scheme," he said.

Concerns about the loss of the barn have been raised by, among others, Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood.

In a letter to planning board chairman David Kelsey last October, Mr Ellwood said: "Were Phase 2 to be completed it would involve destroying the oldest dwelling in Bournemouth, the Cob Barn, thought to be over 500 years old, with huge historical significance to the area."

The barn is the only remaining example of 'Townsend Cottages', and lost its thatch roof in an arson attack. The roof has not been replaced, but the building is considered "important for its use of cob construction", according to a council heritage document.