CONTROVERSIAL plans for three blocks of flats alongside a busy commuter route in Christchurch have been approved.

Members of BCP Council's planning committee gave the green light for the proposal to demolish the existing buildings at 215-225 Barrack Road.

Three blocks of flats with a total of 38 flats will be built on the site, which is currently occupied by a handful of homes and businesses including the Dragon Palace restaurant and Cars of Christchurch.

Applicants Calendula Assets Limited, which trades under the name of DWP Housing Partnership, said the flats would be on the rental market and "attract long-term tenants".

The approval came despite 35 objections and opposition from Christchurch Town Council.

An expired planning permission for part of the site featured 30 one-bed and four two-bed flats.

The new scheme features 20 one-bed and 18 two-bed apartments across a larger overall site.

Bournemouth Echo: Cars of Christchurch in Barrack Road is part of the development siteCars of Christchurch in Barrack Road is part of the development site

Providing a statement on behalf of the applicant, David Phillips said: "DWP's primary aim is to provide good quality, long-term housing for the local community.

"This ethos has been personified in all of our new developments over the last few years.

"In line with this, we have for some time felt that the extant permission on this site does not match our business plan.

"The units are not up to our modern design standards and do not accord with our view on acceptable minimum size requirements that will in turn attract long-term tenants."

He added: "Here we see a unique opportunity to deliver a modern-build project which will provide quality accommodation for the area."

The plans include around 20 car parking spaces despite council planning policy stating none are required due to the nature of the development. There will also be 58 cycle spaces.

A statement from objecting resident Susan Suliman said: "This application has many issues of concern that have not been resolved."

She added: "The development will mean residents will not be able to enjoy their outdoor garden space due to the number and height of the flats."

Ms Suliman also cited concerns over the lack of affordable housing and "inadequate" parking provision. Many of these views were echoed by fellow objector John Pendrill.

A report by planning officer Sophie Mawdsley, who recommended approval of the application, said the scheme did not include affordable housing as the applicant and independent assessment said "there is no viability to provide affordable housing".

"This is regrettable but given current construction and delivery costs it is somewhat unsurprising," said the report.

Ward councillor Margaret Phipps said: "The architectural style is not in keeping with its surroundings. The visual aspect of this development is three massive squares of brick and render, with huge areas of glazing, which is nothing like its surroundings at all.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Margaret PhippsCllr Margaret Phipps

"Just because there are a few other flats in the area, does not justify these massive blocks."

She added: "Whilst it is noted there is ample space for bicycles, there is no doubt the size of this scheme will generate more car trips on the already busy Barrack Road.

"Just because there is not enough parking space for all the flats does not mean an occupant will not have a car, in fact they probably will.

"Side roads are already congested with parked cars and this proposal will only exasperate the situation."

Planning committee members approved the scheme at a meeting on November 18, with a vote of 10 in favour and two against.