CONTENTIOUS plans for a new A338 junction near the Royal Bournemouth Hospital have been approved by councillors.

Bournemouth council’s Wessex Fields scheme was backed by members of its planning committee at a special meeting on Monday night, despite strong opposition from residents.

However, following a request from the local government secretary, James Brokenshire, the council will be unable to issue a formal decision notice until he has considered the move.

The Wessex Fields proposal, which would see the construction of a new link road and junction in the area around the A338 at Royal Bournemouth Hospital – part of which is in the green belt.

The council says its scheme will open up the site for a planned new business park and “release the valve” on traffic pressures.

Speaking at the meeting, the hospital’s head of estates, Edwin Davies, said that the scheme would benefit both patients of Royal Bournemouth Hospital and its 4,500 members of staff.

However, hundreds of residents have opposed the council’s plans, raising fears that the new road link would exacerbate traffic problems rather than help and about the environmental impact it would have.

Opposition was also made by Retired Nurses National Home representative, Nick Pryor, who said the 9.5-metre gap between its home, which sits in the middle of the site, and the new road would have a detrimental impact on its residents.

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood had requested that Mr Brokenshire ‘call-in’ the application due to the council’s “inevitable and unavoidable bias” as the landowner, applicant and decision-maker.

The council had warned that the move would cause “a significant delay” to the planning process – with approval requiring Mr Brokenshire’s backing.

Despite this, councillors approved the scheme on Monday, backing the recommendation made by private planning officer David Innes.

Planning committee chairman, Cllr David Kelsey, said that they were “looking to the future” by permitting the development.

“As much as we would like to see cars coming off the roads, we have to provide transport systems now,” he said.

“We do have a duty to look after the green belt but we also have duty to provide for jobs and businesses for the future.”

Cllr Kelsey’s move was supported by six councillors while Cllr Simon Bull voted against it.

The application will now be considered by Mr Brokenshire before he decides whether to determine it himself.