WORK on building a new £50million cinema and restaurant complex in the heart of Bournemouth will start in a few months, developers have promised.

The developers of West Central say they are preparing to appoint contractors ready for work to start on the Exeter Road site in late spring.

Licet Developments hoped to start work last year, when they had finalised their funding and had major operators signed up to the scheme.

However, building plans were delayed when Bournemouth council decided it wanted to see a bus station built on the land instead and withdrew an offer to sell a small strip of council-owned land.

The council believed Licet would be unable to build its leisure scheme without the council land but Licet simply amended the design and successfully applied for planning permission.

Chris Dymond, Licet’s director, said: “Major developments such as this do take time as it’s really important that we get it just right to create the longed-for all weather leisure facility that will draw locals and visitors to spend time and money in the very heart of Bournemouth.

“So we’re delighted that at last the formal paperwork is in place and we’re now working closely with all partners to bring the plans to life.”

Agreements are currently being concluded with leading restaurants including names that will be new to Bournemouth, as well as a major multiplex cinema operator. Names are due to be announced soon as agreements are finalised.

It’s anticipated West Central will take around 18 months to build and will create 300 new jobs.

Nigel Hedges, president of the Chamber of Trade, said: “There are 16 prime sites waiting for redevelopment in the town centre, which will help strengthen our offer to residents and visitors.

“We now need to see a crane in the air because that will send out a signal that Bournemouth is open for business and acting on its vision.”