CHRISTCHURCH residents have expressed growing concerns on the plans to build on the site of its former police station, claiming it is the “wrong development”.

Amended plans to carry out a major redevelopment of the site, as well as the adjoining Pit Site car park, have been submitted by Aster Group.

Business owners, residents and town council members fear the loss of two major car parks in the area would have a detrimental effect on visitor numbers to the area as well as car parking for locals.

A petition campaigning against the site’s current proposal has received close to 1,000 signatures.

Stavy Antoniou, who works at Matisse Beauty Clinic, started the petition last year when the scheme surfaced and now, not only has people coming into her shop to sign it, but others who are willing to distribute flyers around the town.

She said: “The council and the developers are not thinking about the concerns and issues raised by residents.

“Losing the two major car parks in the area is a massive blow for the community, it puts people off coming to the area because there aren’t many other places to go.

“It’s not only the car parks that we are losing, the prices of the car parks we still have will go up because there will be more demand for them, like they have done in Bournemouth. We do not want that.”

The scheme, which is currently being considered by BCP Council, includes 131 homes, 39 sheltered accommodation units, commercial spaces and a museum.

Another concern raised by Christchurch residents is that the local authority’s planning committee only has three Christchurch councillors out of 15 members. The majority are Bournemouth and Poole councillors, who will be voting on this planning application.

“If this proposal was submitted under the old council format, I think this would have been thrown out,” said Christchurch Town Council planning committee chairman David Jones. “We cannot take any more development until the infrastructure of the town is improved.

“We do know this site needs developing, and the area does need more affordable housing, but the is the wrong application.”

Andrew Dunne, Labour candidate for Christchurch constituency and a police officer for 14 years, not only called the closure of the police station “disgraceful” but said that the current plans were not suited for the area.

He said: “Police forces across the country are being forced to move further and further away from the communities they serve and protect just to try and preserve staffing levels, where most of their budget is spent.

“The fact that this site will now become a much-contested housing development without any genuinely affordable housing to the people living and working in Christchurch and the local area is just another indictment on this Conservative government who continue to put profit before people.”