SENIOR councillors in Bournemouth have given their backing to £10.5m plans to replace a town centre car park with a block of 63 “very, very affordable” flats designed for young people.

Members of the cabinet approved a development plan for the Eden Glen car park which would see it replaced with what it describes as a “garden community” of “compact” apartments.

It is the latest proposal to be put forward by the council through Bournemouth Development Company (BDC), which it owns jointly with Morgan Sindall Investments.

The project forms part of the council’s 20-year strategy aimed at regenerating the town centre – mostly through the redevelopment of car parks.

One of the main aims is to provide housing for as many as 2,000 more people in the middle of Bournemouth.

More than a dozen sites have been earmarked by BDC with some schemes, including Berry Court, already having been completed.

The development plan approved by members of the cabinet on Wednesday outlines plans to build a block of 63 “compact apartments with efficient and innovative use of space”.

Speaking at the meeting, the cabinet member for economic growth, Cllr Philip Broadhead, said: “When Eden Glen was brought up at a members’ seminar we had an almost unanimous view that this is a great housing site that really should be focused on the young and ideally trying to get people onto the property ladder for the first time.

“Because of its key location right in the [town] centre, it will help to drive our local economy and business growth forward at the same time as trying to help our young people to get onto the property ladder.”

He added that the aim of the development was to provide low-cost homes but that they would not fall under the government’s definition of ‘affordable housing’ which is them being sold at a maximum of 80 per cent of the market value.

All of the 64 parking spaces provided at the car park would be lost in the redevelopment with no provision made for would-be residents.

However, Cllr Broadhead added that the lost spaces would be provided at other sites in the town.

“As with all of our previous developments, it is our intention to protect car parking as much as possible, realising that is still a viable part of our town centre,” he said.

“Those parking spaces will be reprovided locally, likely in the forthcoming Winter Gardens [scheme] which is just across the road.”

Members of the cabinet unanimously backed the development plan, paving the way for the submission of a planning application.