CONTROVERSIAL plans to convert a former children’s home in Bournemouth into a hostel for homeless families have been approved.

BCP Council said the conversion of Milton House would create “much-needed” accommodation and reduce its reliance on bed and breakfasts.

And despite dozens of people living nearby opposing the scheme, the council’s planning committee approved the planning application when it met on Thursday.

The Wellington Road building had been used by Bournemouth council as a children’s home but was closed two years ago and had been left empty since.

Shortly before it became part of BCP Council, the authority submitted plans for its conversion into accommodation for 14 families.

The home would be staffed during weekday office hours with security contractors visiting several times a day outside of these times.

However, people living nearby described the site, near to several HMOs, as “totally inappropriate” for vulnerable families.

“We are not objecting to the council’s plans to house homeless people but the position of the building,” Rod Sessions said.

“We feel that it’s not suitable for intended use and is out-of-keeping with the rest of the area.”

He said the council should have looked at selling the site for redevelopment into a modern block of flats, mirroring nearby buildings and that profit from that would fund a better facility.

But BCP Council emergency rehousing manager, Colette Riggs, said the new facility would allow people to continue with their lives as much as possible.

“The council has two other facilities in Bournemouth and they have been very well received and in 15 years we have had one complaint,” she said.

“Over that period we have housed more than 3,000 families and that complaint was resolved within a day.”

She said the council had housed 265 homeless families in bed and breakfasts between September 2018 and 2019 at a cost ranging from £60 to £100 a night.

Councillor David Kelsey, who represents the East Cliff and Springbourne ward, said the location was unsuitable for its intended use.

“There are major problems with drugs and other anti-social behaviour in that area,” he said.

“Putting already vulnerable families and children there leaves them open to more access from these sorts of people and that is not good for them.”

Cllr Kelsey was joined by three other committee members in opposing the application but they were outvoted by 10 councillors who agreed that planning permission should be granted.

Councillor Drew Mellor said accommodating families would create fewer problems than when it was a children’s home.

“This is better than being forced to live in a bed and breakfast, some of which are in really poor condition,” he said.

“It’s better for us financially but is also a significant improvement to the conditions homeless families are having to live in.”