WORK to replace a seafront cafe which was gutted by a fire will not begin until autumn next year after council plans were approved by the local authority's own officers.

BCP Council's planning department granted the application, which sought permission for a like-for-like replacement of the Beach House Café building at Mudeford Sandbank.

The original cafe was demolished in 2019 following a fire the previous year and the local authority has a legal obligation to rebuild it.

An initial planning application for a larger "modern" building was withdrawn in December 2020 following hundreds of objections. Beach hut owners claimed there had been a "betrayal of trust", while one councillor called the engagement process "inadequate".

Bournemouth Echo: The former Beach House Cafe building before the fireThe former Beach House Cafe building before the fire

After going back to the drawing board and deciding on a rebuild similar to what was previously on the site, the new plan was submitted earlier this year.

The delegated approval, which was signed off in October, means the scheme now has the green light.

The original larger application was listed on the planning portal as needing a committee decision, however, the like-for-like scheme was a "minor" project.

This means even though it was a council proposal, it could be approved by officers.

Bournemouth Echo: The gutted cafe building. Picture: Bournemouth SpecialsThe gutted cafe building. Picture: Bournemouth Specials

A BCP Council spokesperson said: "Under the current Scheme of Delegation, this application was not required to be considered by the planning committee.

"Only ‘major’ council planning applications are required to go to the planning committee.

"This application was for a ‘minor’ development, so it was entirely constitutionally and procedurally correct to issue a decision under delegated powers.”

Cllr David Kelsey, chair of the council's planning committee, said a review of planning is taking place at the moment and the subject of delegated decisions "is something we will look into".

He said this was of particular concern relating to applications which had sparked a large public interest.

Bournemouth Echo: Work to taken down the gutted building took place some time agoWork to taken down the gutted building took place some time ago

Since the fire and demolition of the old building, a temporary set up has been in place on the sandbank based from a series of converted shipping containers and food vans.

The council said now planning permission had been secured, officers were looking ahead to the construction phase of the project.

However, with concerns over disruption that carrying out work at Mudeford Sandbank throughout next summer, the scheme will be on hold until the off-peak season.

Bournemouth Echo: Firefighters tackling a fire at the Beach House on Friday night (November 2, 2018) Picture by Stephen Bath.Firefighters tackling a fire at the Beach House on Friday night (November 2, 2018) Picture by Stephen Bath.

The spokesperson said: "In agreement with our tenants, our plan is now to commence construction in September 2022 with an aim to complete the new building in readiness for opening ahead of the summer 2023 season.

"This will allow the existing temporary food and beverage offer to remain in place until the end of August, which has proved so popular with residents and visitors alike."