CONTROVERSIAL plans to convert the top four floors of Bournemouth’s flagship Beales store are set to be blocked after being branded “unacceptable” by civic planning chiefs.

The council received 7,574 objection letters after the retailer’s Old Christchurch Road site, which has traded for 135 years, was subject to an application from its landlords to install 65 studios and 11 one-bedroom apartments with no on-site parking spaces.

These letters expressed fears that the development would “degrade the unique character of the town centre” and “destroy Bournemouth’s heritage department store”.

And now the scheme has been slammed in an official report written by senior planning officer Simon Gould, who has recommended councillors dismiss the application at their planning board meeting later this month.

He said the housing mix suggested is “inadequate” and would have a “harmful” impact on the area.

“The proposed development would result in the unacceptable loss of retail floor space,” said Mr Gould.

“The applicant has not satisfactorily justified the lack of suitable car parking for the proposed development.

“The lack of residential car parking provision is likely to lead to sporadic, inconsiderate and illegal parking on the roads in the vicinity of the site and this would prejudice the condition of highway safety and affect local amenity.

“The proposed cycle access is considered to be substandard and will not encourage cycling mode of transport. The proposal also represents poor design.”

When the plans – submitted by investors AEW UK Core Property Fund - were first unveiled in February, chairman of Beales Stuart Lyons described them as “attacking our flagship store”.

But a supporting statement from planning agents Luken Beck said the plan for the Bournemouth site would “strengthen the long term viability of Beales” and was “consistent” with council policy.

The statement added that Beales “does not have the turnover to continue to justify this amount of floorspace, particularly as sales are declining due to competition from internet sales”.

A final decision will be made by the planning board, chaired by Cllr David Kelsey, at town hall meeting at 2.30pm on June 20. The public are welcome to attend.

A spokesman for Beales said the business would not be making any comment until the planning board makes its final decision on the application.

Beales was bought last year for £1.2million by tycoon Andrew Perloff after facing heavy financial losses.

It has 28 remaining stores following the recent closure of the Winchester outlet, which had been deemed “unviable”.