HIGHCLIFFE Residents’ Association is calling for the setting up of three planning committees to cover each town in the BCP authority, following the approval of controversial plans at Chewton Farm Estate.

The application to change the 100-year-old estate to build a block of 14 flats on the site of a chalet bungalow in Chewton Farm Road was approved at a planning meeting at BCP Council in December 2020, despite receiving over 80 objections.

The successful application by Poole developer Richard Carr comes see less than a year after similar plans were strongly opposed by Highcliffe residents and ward councillors in Walkford.

A spokesman from Highcliffe Residents’ Association said: “We have had enough of developers seeing Highcliffe as an easy target to build more and more flats.

“In the past year alone, permission has been given for more than 160 flats to be built on Lymington and Wharncliffe Roads.

“Character family homes are being destroyed to line developers’ pockets, and we are seeing a move towards total urbanisation of the village.”

Residents raised concerns last April when an application was filed to Christchurch town Council by Fortitudo Limited, saying that the company were using the lockdown to see if the application could proceed unopposed.

The Highcliffe and Walkford Parish Council opposed the initial plans submitted during the first national lockdown, saying they were “undoubtedly harmful to the character of the Chewton Farm”.

The Chewton Farm Estate has been designated as a site with an H9 status that was meant to protect against over development in the area, and which has always been upheld by the Christchurch Borough Council and by the planning inspector when appeals took place in the past.

A few years ago, a chicane to discourage access was built at a cost of £60,000 from the public purse.

The community group has said that Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch require their own planning committees in order to properly scrutinize all applications and ensure submissions such as this one do not get approved unknowing.

The spokesman added: “At the present time there is just one planning committee covering the whole of the BCP area, with the great majority of committee members living outside the Christchurch area.

We feel that a committee made up of BCP members who represent our area would preserve the local sensibilities and needs.

“We are aware that the new Highcliffe and Walkford Parish Council are finalising a Neighbourhood Plan which should in the future give more legal standing to decisions being made, but at the moment it seems that our views are not being listened to.”

The revised application, which was submitted on September 3, and was granted at committee in December 2020.

Although land opportunities in Bournemouth for new development are limited, the Resident’s Association have stated that they do not want to see the area's green belt encroached on even more.

“We are a vibrant community with many activities and families who benefit from our two excellent local schools and recreational facilities,” the Highcliffe Residents’ Association spokesman said.

“The popular view of Highcliffe and Walkford is that it is full of old people and this is simply not the case.

“We want to see a balance of housing which encourages more participation in the village for both young and old.”