PLANS to demolish a former retail premises in Highcliffe and replace it with a new commercial space and flats have been approved - despite mass complaints from neighbouring properties.

A total of 32 residents submitted objections to the scheme for the G&Ts site, with the majority of these coming from homes in Seward Court which is located opposite the premises on Lymington Road.

Normally this number of complaints would require the application to go before Christchurch Borough Council’s planning committee.

However, as objections from 24 flats in Seward Court were the same copied letter, a planning officer said the committee threshold had not been reached.

The residents’ complaints focused on the impact the development would have on privacy and amenity, insufficient parking and the impact on neighbouring properties during construction.

The scheme will see the current building flattened to make way for a four-storey structure comprising of a new retail space and nine flats.

Following an assessment of the outline application, the planning officer approved the scheme under delegated powers.

A report written by Christchurch Borough Council’s planning officer Kevin Chilvers says: “The proposal would provide additional residential accommodation on a brownfield site within the urban area in a sustainable location.

“The design and dimensions of the proposed building would not result in any significant harm to the character and appearance of the area, and the proposal would not result in any significant detriment to occupiers of the proposed dwellings or adjacent properties.”

Other concerns highlighted the importance of the clock suspended from the current building, which is dedicated to the coronation of King George V. It was erected as a result of public subscription in 1959.

The council’s projects and estates manager did not agree with the proposed siting of the clock on the new building.

To address this a condition was made requiring applicants Stonehaven Land Developments to formulate and adhere to an agreed programme of works regarding removal, storage and reinstatement of the clock and accompanying plaque.

The Highcliffe branch of G&Ts closed earlier this year as the store manager and director entered retirement.