AN INFLUENTIAL campaign group set up to protect Bournemouth’s heritage and character is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Bournemouth Civic Society was founded four decades ago to oppose plans for a large-scale clifftop development.

But while the plans never amounted to anything, the society went from strength to strength, attracting new members all interested in fostering civic pride and preserving the local environment.

It now has around 360 members and regularly meets with council planning officers to comment on applications of interest.

One of their greatest successes of the past 40 years was winning the battle to preserve and refurbish Bournemouth’s Victorian railway station. They have also campaigned to protect Bournemouth’s green belt and voiced views on the Square, BIC, Pavilion, Winter Gardens, Honeycombe Chine, Piers and King’s Park.

President John Barker said: “We are not just an ‘anti’ organisation, we were in favour of all sorts of things. We just don’t like it when things clash.

“Bournemouth’s heritage and open spaces are still very much under threat and the organisation is just as relevant as ever.”

When asked about his favourite Bournemouth buildings, he said: “The Congregational Church opposite the War Memorial is a beautiful building. I also like the Echo building and the Palace Court Hotel or whatever it is now called on Westover Road. The town’s art deco buildings are wonderful.

“And the worst? Well, it’s not the Imax whatever people think.”

The Civic Society marked its anniversary with a lunch at the Hotel Miramar in Bournemouth.