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38 flats approved to replace Christchurch Body Repair Centre, Dragon Palace restaurant and properties on Barrack Road

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PLANS for 38 flats to replace a Christchurch car repair workshop and restaurant have been approved despite concerns over an influx of apartments in the area.

Calendula Assets Ltd can now demolish Christchurch Body Repair Centre, Dragon Palace restaurant, and four semi-detached properties at 215-225 Barrack Road, to make way for three blocks of flats.

The application had already been approved by BCP Council in November, but was back before the planning committee on Tuesday due to the site now being considered by the Environment Agency at higher risk of flooding.

An artist's impression of development (photo: Brightspace Architects)
An artist's impression of development (photo: Brightspace Architects)

However, officers assured members that flood mitigation measures had been secured and that such a risk was "not a constraint on the proposal". They recommended permission be granted.

The committee heard objections from the owner of the car business, Russell Law, who had been a tenant at the site for the last 15 years.

"I provide a valued service for Christchurch and the surrounding areas," he said. "There are no similar sites that would offer a replacement premises locally, so this loss would be catastrophic for my business and my family."

Another opponent was neighbour Mitchell Pollock, who said that every time it rains he and his wife have to "wade through six inches of standing water to get the kids to school".

"This is just a house – I dread to think of the effects when there are 38 flats," he said.

"I also wish to object on ecological grounds. There are slow worms out the back of our house and next door's. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act these are recognised as a protected species."

Officers pointed out that an ecological study of the site carried out in 2020 had not identified any protected species.

Councillors also raised a number of concerns about the scheme, which they said was one of three flat applications within a 400-metre stretch of Barrack Road to come before the committee.

"This takes the total number of units within those three applications to 111," said Cllr Vanessa Ricketts.

Christchurch Body Repair Centre, Dragon Palace restaurant and four semi-detached properties will be demolished (photo: Google)
Christchurch Body Repair Centre, Dragon Palace restaurant and four semi-detached properties will be demolished (photo: Google)

"As you know, Barrack Road is one of the busiest within the three towns, with more than 30,000 vehicle movements a day.

"Cars will be pushed onto the already overused side roads, where pavement parking is endemic."

Christchurch Cllr Simon McCormack said the design was more "downtown Bournemouth than Christchurch".

"The architecture is not in keeping with the rest of Christchurch – a 900-year-old town," he said.

Other members, however, stressed the committee should just be discussing the reason the application was back before it, specifically the flood zone revisions.

"We're not looking at any other matters," said Cllr Judy Bull. "There are other factors coming in which don't seem relevant to what I have in front of me.

"Obviously ground floor levels will need to be raised above the predicted floor levels and, of course, we can reinforce that by condition.

"I don't want to re-run the whole debate – I'm satisfied the flooding issue has been provided for."

The application was approved, with 10 in favour and three against.

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