OUTLINE permission to demolish a Christchurch factory and replace it with 167 houses and flats is expected to be given next week.

REIDsteel submitted its plans to redevelop the site off Fairmile Road at the beginning of last year in order to fund a move to a larger, purpose-built facility.

BCP Council’s planning committee will be asked to approve the planning application, which includes no provision of 'affordable' housing, when it meets on Thursday (January 9).

“The proposed scheme provides an opportunity to deliver sustainable development and make a significant contribution towards the housing requirement,” a report by planning officer Sophie Mawdsley, published ahead of the meeting, says.

“The relocation of the existing heavy industrial occupier and its associated vehicular movements from a constrained site close to the town centre would result in environmental benefits.”

Should councillors follow her recommendation, subsequent approval would have to be given for more detailed plans for the design and layout of the development before any work can start.

The outline application proposes the demolition of the existing factory buildings and their replacement with as many as 167 homes – the vast majority of which would be flats.

But the application says the development would be unviable if it had to make any available at 'affordable' rates.

REIDsteel managing director Simon Boyd said the firm had been looking at its options for expansion for two years before putting together the application.

“We can’t expand anymore on the site and some of the buildings date back to the 1950s," he said ahead of the plans being submitted.

“Our new purpose-built facility will see an increase in productivity by 100 per cent instantly. It will be bigger, more efficiently shaped and much more environmentally-friendly.”

He said the relocation of the company would also reduce the number of lorries using Fairmile Road.

But 50 letters of objection have been submitted, mainly centred around concerns about the potential for the development to increase traffic problems in the area.

“We welcome the relocation of REIDsteel out of the centre of the town, however we feel the new development should not have access through Mill Road,” said Mr and Mrs Mortimer, who live in Mill Road.

“If this road is allowed to be used as access to the new estate we will lose car parking which is already restricted by yellow lines.”

A final decision on the application will be made at Thursday's meeting.