BOURNEMOUTH Hospital has been accused of "betraying" its supporters after it withdrew plans for an expansion and backed a developer's rival scheme for the same site instead.

In a shock U-turn, the hospital is now supporting Troika Development's £50 million plans for new offices and a park and ride scheme at Riverside Avenue - plans that would effectively leave the hospital land-locked.

The bombshell has left councillors and residents reeling and sparked furious criticism of Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

Many residents supported the hospital's plans as a way of stopping the commercial development and had no idea the hospital was negotiating with Troika.

And councillors who are preparing to fight Troika at a planning appeal in December fear the hospital's decision will seriously weaken their case.

Cllr Nick King, Littledown ward councillor, said: "It's a betrayal of everybody who worked hard for them and everybody who stuck their necks out and went against the advice of the planning board members and voted for them at that full council meeting.

"They put us all through a lot of trouble for no apparent reason."

In a letter to Bournemouth planners, Jim Masters, head of facilities at the RBH, said the hospital was prepared to support Troika's appeal.

He acknowledged this would be "a surprise" to the council and residents but said the agreement enabled the hospital to continue serving Bournemouth without compromising future development plans.

But Cllr Ron Whittaker, vice-chair of the planning board, said he now feared Bournemouth would have Troika's plans foisted upon them.

"It's thrown our arguments completely out of the window," he said. "They have obviously had discussions with Troika and done some form of deal and they're now going to support them at appeal. It makes a mockery of the council process.

"There were 200 people at the public meeting when we threw out the Troika application for a whole host of planning reasons.

"If the hospital is now not prepared to support us, it doesn't help us one bit."

Cllr Ken Mantock, chair of the planning board, insisted the council would still defend its decision at the forthcoming appeal.

But he said: "As far as I'm concerned, the planning board has been consistent throughout this whole affair but it's now clear that the roles and aspirations of some of the applicants have not been.

"Those who had taken a view that the Troika scheme was wrong are now confronted with an unlikely set of bedfellows."

But Nigel Walters, managing director of Troika, said: "Contrary to speculation Troika and the Royal Bournemouth Hospital have always been working together on this matter.

"Troika has always looked to accommodate the long term aspirations of the hospital and to that end agreement has been reached.

"Bournemouth councillors have chosen to go against all their own policies, which makes a mockery of the planning process.

"Hence a very expensive appeal is having to take place to overturn decisions that have clearly been made on political and not policy grounds.

"This is borne out by the officers' strong recommendations not being followed.

"It should be noted that Royal Bournemouth Hospital has never made representations or objected to the applications made by Troika and will be supporting the subsequent appeals."

Tony Spotswood, chief executive of Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "An agreement has been reached between the foundation trust and the land trustees to give us access to land to improve services, for example patient car parking, and meet the needs of patients. We view this as a major step forward in helping to improve healthcare locally."