A structural steel firm’s new development plans were welcomed when more than 200 people attended a public exhibition in Christchurch.

 John Reid & Sons Ltd (REIDsteel) held the consultation event to unveil its proposals to residents, businesses and local groups.

The company, which celebrates its centenary in 2019, plans to move to a new state-of-the-art facility after outgrowing its existing home of more than 50 years in Christchurch.

It is proposing that up to 220 new homes be built on its site in Reid Street after it leaves for the new headquarters elsewhere within the borough.

Visitors to the public exhibition in the Christchurch fire station’s community room had the chance to find out more, give their views and fill out feedback forms.

They included Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope and Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Ian Girling.

REIDsteel managing director Simon Boyd said: “It was a very busy event with lots of feedback from those who attended.

“The plans were well received by the majority of people and the initial results from our feedback forms have also been positive.

“Our thanks go to everyone who took the time to attend and for their constructive comments, which will be considered for our outline planning application.

“We look forward to submitting the application for housing shortly, which people will also be able to comment upon.”

REIDsteel, which employs more than 130 people in Dorset and exports to countries around the world, aims to relocate to an as yet unnamed site in Christchurch.

It will allow the business to invest in the latest technology and significantly increase productivity with operations all under one roof.

It would also remove heavy industry away from the town centre and provide much needed housing and regeneration of a key site with economic, social and environmental benefits.

Initial findings from the feedback forms showed that more than 60 per cent of respondents were in favour or strongly in favour of the removal of industrial use from the site and thought housing was the best use once REIDsteel had relocated.

Seventy-six per cent of respondents believed the plans would help REIDsteel improve productivity and support the local economy, while 73 per cent wanted to see the company remain within the Christchurch area when it moves.

Some 73 per cent of people rated the overall approach to the design and layout of the housing as very good, good or fair.

REIDsteel was founded in 1919 by Colonel John Reid and is still owned by the Reid family. To date the firm has exported goods to more than 140 countries.

The company has the capacity to design, manufacture and supply entire steel buildings – including their cladding and glazing – anywhere in the UK, Europe and across the World.

For more details visit www.reidsteel.com