BOURNEMOUTH council plans to build two houses on a play area near Castlepoint.

The play area in Helyar Road was closed "several years ago", the council says, as it was deemed "underused and surplus to requirements".

The borough has granted itself planning permission to build two semi-detached family homes with gardens on the site.

A report by council planning officer Sophie Edwards states that, according to the borough's 2009 Playground Strategy: " The Strategy acknowledged that many playgrounds were in poor condition or lacked ancillary facilities.

"The decision was taken to reduce the overall number of playgrounds, and seek a better distribution and quality of provision on fewer sites, to enable an overall improvement to play accessibility across the borough as a whole.

"Helyar Road playground was therefore considered surplus to requirements and identified as a site suitable for development."

Earlier this month the borough announced plans to build a block of 10 flats on a former play area in Crescent Road, near the Central Gardens

Two years ago the council approved construction of 14 family homes on a former play area to the rear of Moorside Road in Kinson. That play area had been closed in 2009 due to vandalism, but numerous residents wrote to the council calling for it to be restored.

There was also uproar when the borough announced its plan to build beach huts on the closed splash pool at Alum Chine. In this case the council built a new play area with a 'water play feature' next door, and it has constructed other new play areas in recent years, including at Winton Recreation Ground.

On the current application, the council says a "new, small children's play area" will sit alongside the homes.

Its planning statement says: "There is an urgent need for this type of development. A shortage of affordable family homes in Bournemouth has resulted in a very long housing waiting list and this means that families in need have a long delay in unsuitable housing before a property becomes available."