Approval recommended for the project to build 26 houses on the Coast Guard site at Steamer Point

The site of the new development at Steamer Point

A DECISION on whether or not to grant permission for the controversial redevelopment of a former coastguard complex in Christchurch will be taken next week.

BCP Councilthe planning committee will be asked to approve a mix of 26 houses and apartments on the Steamer Point site at its meeting on Thursday, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Despite more than 150 people opposing the project, a report by planning officer Kim Bowditch recommends approval be given – although she says the decision is “finely balanced.”

Residents fear that the four-story apartment block is disproportionate to the rest of the area and leads to the cutting of too many trees.

The site, purchased from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency by New Milton-based developer Pennyfarthing Homes, has already seen development plans twice rejected, although this was later canceled after an appeal.

Two years ago, a new application was submitted, seeking permission for a four-story block of 17 apartments next to nine houses.

“Our proposal represents a fantastic opportunity to regenerate a vacant brownfield site that has been dilapidated for several years,” said Ben Arnold, Director of Pennyfarthing Homes.

Designs for a previous application which consisted of 29 houses
Designs for a previous application which consisted of 29 houses

“It is a prime location for residential development and we are looking to create a historic project for Christchurch. “

But it sparked significant opposition with 152 people filing letters of opposition, including the city councils of Christchurch and Highcliffe and Walkford.

They said the project was “not in keeping with the character of the area” and criticized the lack of “affordable” housing inside it.

Due to opposition and an appeal from Highcliffe and Walkford MP Cllr Nigel Brooks, a decision on the request will be made on Thursday by the BCP council planning committee which will be asked to approve the plans.

A committee report written by planning officer Kim Bowditch said: “On larger sites like these there are often competing pressures that need to be balanced.

“These factors are very finely balanced in this application, but overall, overall, the provision of residential development to deal with the current under-supply is considered to outweigh the drawbacks of the program. “