RESIDENTS of Christchurch and many associated groups have opposed plans to redevelop the site of the old police station and Bargates car park.

The proposed plans for the magistrates’ court site, a triangular piece of land between the B3073, Twynham Avenue and Barrack Road, includes 131 homes, 39 sheltered accommodation units and “flexible” commercial and community space.

The plans, submitted by Aster Homes back in December 2018, have been objected of the highways officer, the tree and landscape officer, Dorset Wildlife Trust.

A resident living on Twynham Avenue said: “The majority of the community is not happy with this project especially if one is more familiar with the detail and with the area.

“This is a key site in our town centre and conservation area so it should be amazing for the town not a housing estate.

“It can’t be a case of just build something there even if it is significantly flawed, Christchurch deserves better than this. People can’t turn a blind eye to the negatives and pretend they don’t exist; this is unfair as we will have to live with the decisions of others.

“If we carry on like this, we will kill Christchurch.”

The site includes woodland that was not included in the Local Plan 2014 and, therefore, not consulted on by the public.

This area of mature trees, hedges and shrubs provides home and food for a wide range of wildlife and birdlife including bats, owls, woodpeckers and endangered creatures such as stag beetles, song thrushes and sparrows, according to Dorset Wildlife Trust. The inclusion of the land to the 2014 land allocation equate to some 20 to 25 percent additional land.

The Dorset Wildlife Trust pointed out that although an updated Biodiversity, Mitigation and Enhancement Plan had been submitted there is no sign of the Certificate of Approval which is to be provided by the Natural Environment Team at Dorset Council. The plans are due to be discussed at open council at the end of the month.

Peter Fenning, of the Christchurch Conservation Trust, said: “What they are proposing for the land at the back of Twynham Avenue is an ecological corridor which would only be three to four metre wide which is useless.

“The developers say they will plant trees and other plants, but Dorset Wildlife Trust have proposed a corridor of ten to 14 metres.”

Councillor Margaret Phipps, BCP Council portfolio holder for strategic planning said: “The Planning Authority is currently assessing the application for the proposed plans of the site of Christchurch police station.

“All the concerns and issues raised by the residents will be taken into account, dealt with and addressed before making a formal recommendation.”