PLANS to replace five bungalows in Southbourne with a retirement flats complex have been refused for a second time after an “unprecedented negative response” from the public.

Despite Renaissance Retirement scaling back proposals for the Belle Vue Road site since its first scheme was refused in November, more than 100 people wrote in objection.

The application has now been refused by BCP Council, with planning officers describing the block of 38 retirement flats as “overly large and incongruous in design”.

Submitted in June, the amended application reduced the scale of development on the site in a bid to overcome concerns when the previous scheme was refused permission last year.

In a statement, Renaissance Retirement said its plans to replace the four bungalows with a single four-storey block of 38 flats was a “fantastic opportunity”.

“This application addresses the reasons for refusal, most significant of which was the proximity to boundaries and the scale and mass of the proposed building,” it said.

“David James Architects has designed a visually attractive building that successfully addresses the constraints of the site and is sympathetic to the character of the area.”

Despite the changes, almost 200 letters of objection were submitted, including one from Bournemouth Civic Society which said the block would “overwhelm” many neighbouring homes.

“The society is of the opinion that the overt modernist style of the proposals would make the new structure, aesthetically, wholly incompatible with the adjacent townscape,” it said.

“There has been an unprecedented negative response in the form of letters of comments from local residents.

“Their main concern, with which the civic society concurs, is that the built footprint and general mass of what is proposed is far too large for the small scale of the individual bungalows and houses of the surrounding area.”

Echoing the reasons for the opposition, council planning officer Tom Hubbard refused permission for the development, despite welcoming the extra housing.

“The proposal provides residential development in a sustainable location and the 38 flats will contribute towards local housing supply and housing for older people,” his report says.

“The size of the proposed flats and living conditions are considered acceptable, as is parking provision for the application.

“There are significant concerns, however, in terms of the loss of the existing family dwellings, and the fact the replacement development would be overly large and incongruous in design terms and therefore would harm the character and appearance of the area.

“The loss of trees and vegetation will also be detrimental to the site’s character.”