THE first bricks have been laid at a large affordable housing complex at Poole’s former Gravel Hill police station.

Poole Housing Partnership was given the go-ahead in February to build a mixture of 62 one and two-bedroom flats, including six for young people with severe disabilities at the site in Canford Heath Road.

The proposal, which will see the flats built across three blocks of up to four storeys, was approved despite objections from dozens of nearby residents.

Concerns were raised about whether this kind of development would lead to an increase of crime and disorder in the area and whether the height of the building and worries that balconies would impede on the privacy of nearby residents.

But a revised version of the proposals submitted to Borough of Poole seeks to “improve the viability of the project” by removing the balconies.

And now that work is underway on the site ward councillors Sean Gabriel and Ray Tindle joined staff from contractors CG Fry to lay some of the first bricks earlier this month.

Work so far has included the removal of 300 tonnes of concrete which formed the base of the former police station. The majority of this material was able to be recycled, being crushed and re-used in the construction of the foundations for the new apartment buildings.

Cllr Gabriel said: “It was an honour to be asked to lay some of the first bricks for the new development, which will provide much-needed affordable housing for local families. The six units supporting independent living for people with a range of disabilities are especially welcome.

"We look forward to seeing construction progress further over the coming months and would like to thank local residents for their continued patience during these works."

And cabinet member for housing and communities, Cllr Karen Rampton, added: “We are firmly committed to delivering more affordable housing in Poole - with almost 1,000 families on the housing register it is vital that we continue to make this a top priority. I am delighted to see this latest development progressing well.”

The development is due to welcome its first residents in late 2018.