PLANS first floated more than a year ago to extend the Boathouse restaurant on Christchurch Quay are to be decided by a government planning inspector following a public inquiry next month.

Operators of the Quay Road complex have appealed against the refusal of planning permission by Christchurch council last year for a raft of alterations and additions including glazing the first-floor roof terrace.

The proposals, which also include a pergola entrance, a glazed roof over the restaurant patio and internal alterations, were drawn up following an earlier failed planning appeal for a canvas awning over the al fresco eating areas. But the latest scheme was refused by the council's planning control committee in May 2006 following a wave of objections from neighbouring residents and Christchurch Citizens' Association, concerned at the impact of the enlarged building on the character of the quayside.

And their fears were echoed by planning officers and councillors who ruled the scale of the extensions would be intrusive and dominant in the setting of the quayside open space and conservation area, spoil views of the nearby Priory and bring extra traffic and noise to the area.

Agents Boathouse operators Macemade said the proposals would give the building a facelift with enhanced entrance and disabled access. The proposed first-floor function room would be enclosed and although part of the conservatory could be opened, noise would be contained.

Macemade said the revised internal layout would result in a reduced rather than increased restaurant capacity and would not intrude on views of the Priory or Quay but add to the amenities of the area.

The building, originally a private house, has had a chequered history as the former Riverside Café and amusement arcade which closed in 1988 before becoming a pub as the short-lived Inn on the Quay.

Boarded up while owners Bryant Homes failed to win permission for a sheltered flats development, the premises were acquired by Christchurch council and leased to restaurateur Kim Slater, who opened the Boathouse 10 years ago.

But planning wrangles continued with enforcement action in 2003 to remove unpermitted awnings and glazed screens put up around the building.