COUNCILLORS have approved plans to redevelop the disused former police station site in the centre of Christchurch for a second time.

BCP Council’s planning committee gave its backing to Aster Homes’ scheme for the site between Barrack Road and Bargates after legal issues saw its initial February decision scrapped.

Despite warnings from objectors that reports provided to them were “biased”, councillors said the development would "provide improvements all round".

Aster Homes’ development will see 130 homes built alongside sheltered accommodation and community facilities on the police station and magistrates’ court site.

The planning committee approved the scheme in February but the application was withdrawn in the face of the threat of a legal challenge over the decision.

A judicial review pre-action protocol letter warned it had been “unlawful”.

Read more: Police station site decision "unlawful" (and council has been threatened with legal action)

It said biodiversity policies had not been complied with, that there had been incorrect advice on the effects of the planned “ecological corridor” and that living space standards for the proposed homes had not been considered.

In a bid to overcome the complaints, Aster submitted an amended set of proposals this summer.

These were brought before the planning committee on Thursday when planning officers again asked that they be approved.

But, speaking at the meeting, Susan Suliman, representing many of the opponents of the development, said there was “a perception of bias” in the reports recommending permission be granted.

“The council stands to gain financially from this,” a statement read out on her behalf said. “It is understandable that in a time of squeezed local authority budgets officers would want – or perhaps feel pressure – to realise income.”

She added that the reports “appear to persuade rather than inform” and made “misleading claims”.

Despite this, councillors backed the recommendation to approve the scheme for a second time.

They said the development would be “very complementary” to its surroundings and would “provide improvements all round”.

“There’s a danger when you’ve got a derelict site like this that has become an eyesore that you jump in and say: ‘anything is better than what’s there now’,” councillor Marion Le Poidevin said.

“But in this case this is very much an asset to Christchurch, I like the design and I think it’s a really good form of development.

“Although most of it is flats, they look like houses and it’s in keeping for a town with history.”

A move to approve the development was passed with only councillor Peter Hall opposing the granting of planning permission.