A DECISION on whether to grant planning permission for the controversial redevelopment of a former Coastguard complex in Christchurch will be made next week.

BCP Council’s planning committee will be asked to approve the plans to build a mix of 26 homes and flats on the Steamer Point site when it meets on Thursday.

Despite more than 150 people objecting to the scheme, a report by planning officer Kim Bowditch recommends approval be given although she says the decision is “finely-balanced”.

The site, bought from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency by developer Pennyfarthing Homes, has previously seen development plans rejected twice, although this was later overturned after an appeal.

Two years ago a new application was submitted, seeking permission for a four-storey block of 17 flats alongside nine homes.

“Our proposal represents a fantastic opportunity to regenerate a vacant, brownfield site which has been run down for a number of years,” Pennyfarthing Homes director Ben Arnold said. “This is a prime location for residential development and we are seeking to create a landmark scheme for Christchurch.”

But it has attracted significant opposition with 152 people filing letters of objection, including both Christchurch Town Council and Highcliffe and Walkford Parish Council.

They said the scheme was “out of keeping with the character of the area” and criticised the lack of ‘affordable’ housing provision within it.

As a result of the opposition, and a call-in by councillor Nigel Brooks, a decision on the application will be made by BCP Council’s planning committee on Thursday.

Councillors will be asked to approve the plans, although planning officer Kim Bowditch said her judgement was “finely-balanced”.

“On larger sites such as these it is often the case that there are competing pressures which must be weighed against each other,” her report, published ahead of the meeting says. “These factors are very finely balanced in this application, but overall, on balance, the provision of residential development to address the current under supply is considered to outweigh the negatives of the scheme.”

A final decision will be made by the planning committee when it meets on Thursday.