PLANS to extend a “redundant” office block in Christchurch and convert it into a block of dozens of flats have been approved.
BCP Council has granted planning permission to London-based developers to extend 153 Somerford Road into a four-storey residential building, despite concerns about it being a retail-focused area, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Planning officers said the scheme would make a “valuable social contribution” to the town.
Applicant 153 Somerford Holdings Ltd had two proposals to convert the office building into 25 and 27 flats approved by the council last year.
But in November, it put forward more ambitious plans to add an extra two storeys to the building to house 48 one- and two-bedroom flats.
As a result of discussions with council planning officers, it later revised the scheme, reducing the number of flats by two.
Despite being classed as a “major” development due to its scale, no affordable housing is included due to concerns it would be unprofitable if a contribution had been made.
Three objections were made to the application, with particular concern raised about potential issues with the provision of residential accommodation in a retail-focused area.
Despite these, BCP Council has granted planning permission for the development due to concerns that the area was not meeting the requirement to have a five-year supply of new housing schemes.
Planning officer Sophie Mawdsley said concerns raised had been “carefully considered” and that potential flooding issues on the site had been overcome.
“The development would contribute an additional 46 residential units towards the five-year housing land supply and as such make a valuable social contribution to the Christchurch area,” she said.
“The site is within a sustainable location, being within walking distance of local services and facilities.
“Furthermore, the development would provide some economic benefit through employment during the construction phase and it enables the re-development of an empty site on one of main corridors in the area.”
A spokesperson for the developer said: “The plans have been meticulously designed to meet the growing requirement for high quality housing priced at an attainable level for the residents of Christchurch.
“Springacre Property group are working with a local contractor, who in turn will provide extensive employment opportunities throughout the 15-month build program.
“It was an opportunity to redesign a tired, redundant building and give it a new lease of life, whilst making a valuable contribution to local housing provisions.
“We are scheduled to deliver this exciting new scheme in spring 2022, and are confident it will have a positive impact on the local community. “