THE approach to regenerating Christchurch must be dynamic, imaginative and proactive – so say the town’s six independent councillors who are have outlined key schemes they want to be considered by BCP Council.
In a letter sent to Conservative authority leader Cllr Drew Mellor, they said they accepted the need for the “huge development opportunity” of the civic centre site in Bridge Street.
But the Christchurch Independents group hoped that it would involve a marina, shopping and café destination along with “high quality” housing.
They added: “We would, of course, wish to see the site provide substantial community amenities for the future.”
The Independents also wanted BCP Council to help Highcliffe with its project to revitalise the village’s High Street, and Christchurch residents with plans to pedestrianise theirs.
The letter was sent by Cllr Paul Hilliard, leader of the group, who told the A&T: “We had talks with the new leader of BCP Council and we made it clear that we want Christchurch to be an equal partner with Bournemouth and Poole.
“We wanted a record of what was discussed, and this is why the letter was sent.
“It is a mark in the sand as it were. We do not want to see Christchurch sidelined in any way. We want to be involved in all plans and have a voice.”
They pointed out that they have always been “fiercely protective” of the town’s green belt claiming that Roeshot Hill was only relinquished to “prevent a piecemeal decimation of other areas”.
As a result, councillors said any schemes for affordable housing and community amenities should be incorporated in development of that area rather than in other part of the Christchurch borough.
They also said that the “well established and much loved” allotments at the edge of the site should not be moved and that mitigation of traffic concerns needs to be taken to counteract the severe congestion Christchurch already suffers.
Cllr Mellor, who took over as leader in October, has stated that he is “absolutely committed to protecting and enhancing” Christchurch.