PLANNING permission has been granted for a new multi-million pound injury and illness rehabilitation centre in Boscombe.

BCP Council has approved AECC University College’s plans to demolish the former St Thomas Garnet’s School sports hall to make way for the integrated rehabilitation centre.

It said the loss of the hall, and part of the school field was “significantly outweighed” by the benefits of the new facility.

The university submitted its planning application at the end of last month, seeking permission to expand its healthcare offering.

The move followed the decision of the university to buy the former private school in Parkwood Road. It has since moved some of its operations to the site.

Its planning application is part of work to expand the variety of healthcare specialities offered to an extra 14,500 patients a year.

University vice-chancellor professor Lesley Haig said the centre would help fill a “critical need”.

“Even before we entered this pandemic there were pressures on rehabilitation services,” she said. “This centre will help that while also increasing the quality of care as we will have these specialities all in one place.”

The application has been supported by Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group while the project will be part-funded through a £2.7 million grant from Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership.

Planning permission was awarded by BCP Council at the end of last month.

“The proposed use of the site would retain a large proportion of the open space as part of a scheme that would be of wider community benefit,” council planning officer Julie Allington said. “The nature of the facility also means that it is likely to be of benefit to persons taking part in sports as part of their rehabilitation following injuries.”

Her report approving the scheme said the development met the requirements of its policies and “that the benefits of the proposed development to the local community would significantly outweigh” any harm.