Two retail units in Petersfield town centre are to be converted into affordable housing amid claims they have not been marketed properly by its owners.

Planners have approved an application to convert the ground-floor units on the new Dragon Court development into five apartments, despite numerous objections.

Both Petersfield Town Council (PTC) and Petersfield Society had objected to the potential loss of retail space while concerns have been made about the impact on parking for Dolphin Court residents.

“It is not possible to determine whether the units had been marketed on fair terms and that the exercise has been robust,” stated the PTC objection, adding that recent businesses had established themselves next to the site.

But the units have been empty since construction finished last year and there has been “no firm interest” in either, according to agents Holloway, Iliffe and Mitchell, during a 26-month period.

The need to meet affordable housing in Petersfield was also too great to ignore with the changes providing four two-bedroom apartments and a single one-bedroom dwelling.

There are nearly 300 people on the Hampshire Home Choice Register with a connection to Petersfield who are bidding for either a one- or two-bedroom affordable rented home in the town.

Planners agreed the Peter Estates Ltd development will meet some of that need with tenure arranged by the Petersfield Housing Association.

The ground-floor unit fronting Dragon Street will be converted into a pair of two-bedroom apartments and a single one-bedroom dwelling.

A planter will be installed on the adjacent pavement to provide the new residents with added privacy while the unit in the block facing the M&S car park will be converted into a further pair of two-bedroom apartments.