COUNCILLORS have given permission for a restaurant under a block of flats in Southbourne in what was described as an “unprecedented” move.

Despite fears from those living above the former Subway store about the potential fire risks, members of Bournemouth council’s planning committee unanimously approved the application on Monday.

Paul Forsdike, food and beverage manager at the Captain’s Club hotel in Christchurch, said his planned Southbourne Grove brasserie would be a “destination venue”.

Dozens of letters were sent to Bournemouth council following the submission of the application, both supporting and objecting to the proposal.

Due to the number of people opposing the scheme, the plan was considered by the council’s planning committee on Monday.

Councillors were told by a resident of one of the flats, Megan Cooper, that there was a “high risk” of fire from the restaurant.

“Having a restaurant under a block of eight flats is unprecedented in Southbourne,” she said.

Concerns were also raised about the impact the brasseries would have on the value of their homes but they were told this could not be considered as part of councillors’ planning considerations.

Mr Forsdike said he wished to work closely with the people living above the restaurant to make sure issues do not arise.

He said: “It’s important to maintain good relations with neighbours and I believe the concerns they have now will not become a problem.”

The application was supported by West Southbourne councillor Chris Mayne who said it would “enhance” the area.

Committee members said they sympathised with the concerns of those living in the flats but that they could see no planning grounds to refuse permission for the brasserie.

Cllr Phil Stanley-Watts said it was important that they continued to support family-run businesses in Southbourne Grove.

His move to approve the application was unanimously backed by his fellow committee members.