A TEN-STOREY office block in Bournemouth can be converted into 158 flats after the proposal was green lit by BCP Council.

Property developer Ameriscot Ltd said the reconfiguration of the Ocean 80 building in Holdenhurst Road for housing was needed due to falling demand for workspace.

And council planning officer Tom Hubbard has now approved its prior approval application, saying the scheme was “acceptable”.

Submitted in January, the application outlined plans to convert the building, which has housed the likes of Lloyds and Health-on-Line, into 158 flats, most of which would be one-bedroom.

It said there was falling demand for office space, a trend exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Given the tumultuous events of 2020, and longer term behavioural shifts in the office and hospitality markets, permission is being sought for change of use to residential,” a statement submitted with its plans said.

It added that the change of use of the building was “compatible” with its layout and that it was possible to make sure every flat received natural light.

The application was backed by Yellow Buses, with its commercial director Simon Newport welcoming the increase in housing provision in the area.

And support was also given by Bournemouth Civic Society which said the development “should be attractive” to students and young professionals, despite the smaller size of the flats.

“In view of the rapid growth, mainly in large, modern buildings of extensive educational, commercial and service industries in the Holdenhurst/Lansdowne area, the society regards the change of use in the old Abbey Life building a reasonable thing,” it said.

The conversion has now been supported by the council, partly due to the location of the building which it said was “among the most sustainable” in Bournemouth.

Planning officer Tom Hubbard said the “various elements” of the scheme, including the parking arrangement and the living conditions the flats would provide, had been “examined” and deemed to be acceptable.