THE car parking policy for new housing developments has come under fire again as councillors reassessed a controversial plan for flats in a busy Christchurch road.

BCP Council’s Parking Standards Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) states no parking is required for residential schemes of any size in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole town centres.

Other areas of the conurbation have relatively low parking requirements, which often leads to objections from residents when planning applications are submitted.

Members of BCP Council’s planning committee bemoaned the parking SPD when discussing the scheme from Calendula Assets Ltd, which trades under the name of DWP Housing Partnership, for 215-225 Barrack Road.

In November last year the planning committee approved the scheme for three housing blocks providing 38 flats on the site currently occupied by a handful of homes and businesses including the Dragon Palace restaurant and Cars of Christchurch.

The application had to go back before councillors at a meeting on May 24 as it had come to light that the site was now in a different flood zone.

Committee member and Liberal Democrat councillor for Alderney and Bourne Valley Tony Trent said: “I was staggered by the level of traffic and the fact I had to wait ages even to get back into my car after visiting it, certainly I wouldn’t be able to hop across the road to look at anything without walking to the nearest pedestrian crossing.

“I think in all the time I was there, and I looked at it for quite a while trying to establish the exact beginning and end point of where the application covered, I didn’t see a single bus.”

Planning committee vice chair Toby Johnson said the 1A bus route, which serves Barrack Road, runs every 10 minutes during the day so Cllr Trent “must have been unlucky that a few of them were caught up in traffic”.

Councillor Trent replied: “They must have been on strike or something.”

Councillor Tony O’Neill, Conservative for Penn Hill, said he could see no planning grounds to refuse the application.

However, he took the opportunity to highlight his concerns over the parking policy.

“In terms of the sustainable travel route, it is but it is a very busy route,” Cllr O’Neill said.

“When I visited I did count two buses. The only reason I counted them was because I tried to cross the road and I had to stand there for about 15 minutes in the rush hour.

“That leads me on to parking. This development does meet the parking SPD. I think the problem there is the SPD stands so I can’t see a reason for refusal on those grounds.

“But I do hope the SPD itself is challenged and changed and the sooner the better because it is causing more and more problems across the conurbation and that is long overdue for review in my opinion.”

The committee was told there was no affordable housing in the scheme as it was not considered financially viable with an assessment carried out by the district valuer.

A report to the committee said following the submission of a flood risk assessment the proposal had been reassessed and recommended for approval once again.

West Southbourne Conservative councillor Bob Lawton, who table a move to grant the application, said: “I don’t have any problems with this application.

“It has already been approved by the planning board before I came on the planning board.

“I cannot understand why we are arguing against something that has already been approved.”

The approval was carried with 10 votes in favour and three against.