PLANNING permission for a new £8 million children’s mental health facility in Bournemouth has been refused.

Describing the application as "one of the most complex of the year", councillors voted against the proposals for the new centre at Pebble Lodge on Monday.

Residents and planning officers had opposed the plans, raising concerns about the lack of parking, tree loss, privacy issues and the impact it would have on the listed Herbert Hospital buildings.

But Dorset Healthcare NHS trust officials had described it as "vital" for its work supporting youngsters facing "acute" mental health issues.

The scheme had been due to be considered last month but members of the council’s planning committee agreed to defer a decision, saying that they needed to visit the site.

On Monday, five councillors were shown around Pebble Lodge and homes backing onto the proposed plot.

Under plans submitted by the trust, it would have cleared trees from land used as a car park to make way for the new two-storey centre which would have provided round-the-clock care for eight youngsters.

The government had earmarked £8 million towards its construction as well as £3 million-a-year to cover running costs.

And trust chief executive, Ron Shields, had warned that it would miss out on the funding should the application be refused.

Despite this, councillors agreed on Monday to refuse the application, citing concerns about the impact of the loss of trees, the impact on listed buildings, privacy for patients and residents and the lack of parking.

Seconding Cllr Stephen Bartlett’s move to reject the scheme, committee chairman, Cllr David Kelsey, said that the trust needed to look elsewhere in Dorset.

“This is probably the application that has given us the most stress this year,” he said.

“But I don’t think the plans as they are are appropriate and I think the NHS need to look outside of the box and need to look at another site.

“We have some fantastic buildings here and I think the setting for those would be so adversely impacted that allowing this would be wrong.

“And then there’s the matter of privacy, something which residents have a right to but also something which is so important to patients and neither will have it if this is built here.”

Councillors voted three to two to refuse planning permission.

Speaking after the meeting the trust’s deputy chief executive, Eugine Yafele, said that its next steps would not be known until the full decision notice is published by the council.

“We are obviously disappointed by the decision,” he said. “We always knew that there was a level of local opposition but the application wasn’t made without thinking about the huge benefits it would bring to local children.

“This is an essential facility and there’s a huge need for this in Dorset and particularly in Bournemouth and Poole.

“We will now wait for the full report from the council before we make any decision on what we do next.”