A THIRD set of plans for the redevelopment of a former church site in Bournemouth town centre have been approved.

BCP Council has granted planning permission for the construction of a seven-storey block of 85 flats on the Punshon Memorial Methodist Church plot opposite the BIC.

Planning officer Simon Gould said the changes proposed by developer The Mast were “modest” and in keeping with previous approved schemes.

The church in Exeter Road was demolished in 2015 after it was sold for redevelopment due to concerns about the cost of its maintenance.

The land has since been used as a temporary car park before Bournemouth council refused retrospective permission for this in 2018.

Outline planning applications for replacement buildings with ground floor commercial units were approved in 2015 and 2017, with the latter being for 96 flats.

In December 2018 The Mast submitted its latest set of plans for the site, including a reduction in the number of flats to 85 and an increase in the number of parking spaces from 15 to 66.

However, it said providing any ‘affordable’ housing would make the development “unviable”.

“It is considered that the proposed layout of the development respects the character of the area and the amenity of neighbouring properties, whilst safeguarding the setting of the neighbouring listed buildings,” a statement submitted with its application said.

“In light of the extant approval and the previous building at the site, the proposal would not appear out of context with the existing locality nor would it be considered an over intensive development.”

However, five people wrote to the council opposing the scheme, criticising its scale and design while raising concerns that it would increase parking issues in the area.

Despite this, Mr Gould agreed to grant planning permission in a report published earlier this month.

“The proposed changes to the scale and design of the building listed above are considered modest and in keeping with the extant scheme,” he said.

“In my opinion they do not result in a significant nor material change to the approved scheme, I am also mindful that there has been no material change in policy since the previous scheme was approved that warrants taking a different view.”