PLANS to demolish a church hall and replace it with houses have been lodged after an appeal to approve a refused scheme was dismissed.

Outline planning permission has been sought by Ashdrew Ltd to build four semi-detached houses after demolishing St Peter’s Church Hall, in Chapel Road, Ashley Cross.

As reported, the hall has been subject to a number of planning applications since 2022.

In November of that year, plans to build six terraced homes on the site were refused by BCP Council planners who feared overdevelopment.

Separate resubmitted plans for four or six houses were then refused in September 2023 by the planning committee, citing the loss of the community space, despite more than 80 letters of support for the scheme.

Bournemouth Echo:

An appeal was submitted for the scheme for six homes, but this was dismissed.

The planning inspector considered the potential loss of the community facility but concluded that these activities could be accommodated elsewhere in the area, including in the church itself.

The new plans would see two pairs of three-bedroom semi-detached houses built with parking on the site of the hall.

The applicant has negotiated buying the land from the parish council, which fully supports the application.

Money generated by the sale of the homes would help fund the next phase of the development of St Peter’s Church, with the first phase completed in December.

This, a planning and heritage statement said, would turn the church into a ‘multi-purpose arts venue and community hub’.

The statement said that several groups have already moved into the church from the hall, including Pilates and yoga classes.

“According to the owner and St Peter’s Church Rector the Revd Michael Trotman, the church hall is no longer financially viable for the church to run,” it said.

“In recent years, it has been operating at a loss, being considerably underused with several hall booking slots being unfilled each week.

“Several defects concerning the fabric of the building have been identified by an independent building surveyor, with significant building repairs needed.

“It was decided that the hall will close on the 31st of March and all users have been given 6 months-notice since September 2023.”

Bournemouth Echo: Reverend Mike Trotman outside St Peter’s Church in Parkstone.

The statement concluded: “The appeal decision demonstrates that the loss of the church hall is justified as there will be sufficient alternative accommodation to meet the needs of the community.

“The applicant therefore considers that there are no adverse impacts that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the proposal and planning consent ought to be granted.”

No date has been set for a decision on the plans.