The conversion of a large house overlooking Dorchester's Borough Gardens could bring traffic chaos to the area – neighbours have warned.

The house, at 6 Albert Road, sits at the junction with Cornwall Road. It was last used as offices for the Dorchester Community Mental Health team.

New owners, Canterbury Properties, want to convert the building to five apartments and put up a new block with five apartments in a linked building. The site would have eleven parking places – six more than at present.

But neighbours say that parking is already in short supply in the area. They claim the parking spaces proposed will not be enough and will add to problems.

There is also concerns over the loss of the garden, the setting of the existing house, the risk to protected trees in the grounds and the proposed link between the existing building and the new property.

Dorchester town council planning committee shared the concerns of neighbours at a meeting and will pass on the concerns with the West Dorset District Council planning committee, which will make the final decision.

The County Archaeologist has also weighed into the debate about whether the new apartment block should be allowed and says that if it is agreed there must be an archaeological examination of the site as a Roman burial ground is known to be in the area.

Neighbour to the site, Keith Wilson, said if all the apartments were filled to capacity there could be 38 new residents on the site, many having two cars per apartment which would result in problems trying to park on the streets of the area.

He said when the houses were built they were designed to fit in with the Borough Gardens. He said if the new building was allowed it would be the first since the 1870s and, he described as “unsightly.”

Mr Wilson said works would inevitably affect the roots of trees in the grounds, including an impressive Copper Beech, and digging modern foundations might also affect neighbouring properties.

Another neighbour, who gave his name only as Simon, said he was worried about the effect the development would have on bats which lived in the area, as well as other wildlife. He said residents, some of which were medics, working shifts, would also suffer during the construction phase.

He said his other concern was that drains in the area occasionally backed up now and he feared it would be worse with ten new homes on the system.

Dorchester Civic Society has written to claim the plans would be an over development of the plot and express worries about the risk to the archaeology of the area and trees on the site. They say the conversion of the existing building is acceptable, but oppose the new block.

Cllr Richard Biggs said he thought the two blocks would be out of keeping with the rest of the area and agreed with residents concerns about parking: “this is an over development and would put too much pressure on the area,” he said.