TRAFFIC concerns mean plans to renovate and build on top of the Echo's home have been recommended for refusal.

Developer THAT Bournemouth Company 3 Limited plans to refurbish the part-grade II listed structure in Richmond Hill, Bournemouth, and create further offices, 30 beds of “visitor sleeping accommodation” with a café, gym and events space.

The building will remain the home of the Daily Echo.

Council planning officer Ruth Povey said the renovation of the building was considered welcome, but traffic officers had said the lack of a drop-off point for the proposed hotel accommodation was unacceptable.

The report to the planning board says: "The Echo Building itself is grade II listed as notable example of purpose-built newspaper offices in the Art Deco style.

"The revised heritage impact assessment sets out that changes in the newspaper industry (principally moving from paper to digital) have resulted in a substantial reduction in Daily Echo staff numbers, and that whilst co-work offices have given part of the building a new lease of life, the building is under-occupied."

Originally the developer proposed to create a lay-by next to the Richmond Hill entrance, but the council considered this to potentially pose a danger to pedestrians and be vulnerable to abuse by other users, since it is a public highway.

The report says: "It is appreciated that the vehicle layby on Richmond Hill has been omitted from the scheme to seek to narrow the concerns of the highway officer.

"This does address the issues with the layby, however it leaves unresolved the drop off/pick up of guests staying overnight at the building."

Recommending refusal, the report says: "The scheme would represent a significant benefit in terms of the future of this heritage building, as well as a contribution to town centre economy.

"In the planning balance aspects of the scheme which are not ideal, such as the lack of on-site parking can be outweighed, however, the safety implications of a potential conflict between vehicles and pedestrian movement cannot."

The scheme will be considered by the planning board on Monday, March 18.

Historic England has said it considers the scheme to be "a potentially exciting and carefully-considered design response to this landmark building".

It had expressed concerns over the size and shape of the proposed rooftop extension, stating that the "asymmetry of the rooftop extension jars considerably with the muscular symmetry of the building".

Bournemouth Civic Society likewise gave a mixed response to the design. In its submission, chairman Ken Mantock said: "Generally speaking the civic society is very satisfied with these renovation proposals other than the additional storeys that rise behind the central tower feature of the building.

"We consider that these rear extensions dominate and unbalance the symmetrical facade of the Echo Office building when viewed from St. Stephens Road and would destabilise what otherwise, in these well-intentioned plans, would be an improved silhouette of the restored facade on Richmond Hill."

The developer says its goal is to "transform the old home of Bournemouth media into a modern mixed-use hub for business and leisure".

This article has been edited to take account of revisions to the plans.