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Royal Arcade could be “jewel in Boscombe’s crown”, says new developer
A MUCH-loved Victorian shopping arcade in Boscombe has been bought by the third developer in 12 months.
Graham Warren, whose last project was the award-winning conversion of Westbourne Methodist Church to accommodate Tesco Express and Rock restaurant, plans to refurbish 32 flats above the shops in the Royal Arcade for owner-occupiers.
In March, then new owners Oram Moss announced similar plans to re-point the Grade-II listed building’s brickwork and renovate the maisonette flats – originally accommodation for shop owners – but empty now for at least 15 years.
And last August another developer, Arnewood Estates, outlined plans to create an artists’ community in the arcade.
Mr Warren, who was funded by Cherry Mortgage and Finance of Ferndown, said he was approached by Oram Moss about buying the units.
“I was interested in trying to bring back these units to how they were in 1892, when the arcade was first built,” he said.
“We would like to include as many of the old Victorian fixtures as we can, although not all of them comply with building regulations these days, and we are working closely with Bournemouth Council’s conservation officers, who have been very helpful.
“Boscombe gets a lot of bad press, but the regeneration is on-going and this building could be the jewel in its crown.”
Mr Warren is waiting for planning permission for a Victorian-style gantry along the sides of the building allowing access to the flats, which were originally connected to the shops.
If permission is granted Mr Warren expects the refurbishment work – costing around £750,000 – to last around 14 months, with flats put on the market in batches. Boscombe West councillor Christopher Wakefield said it was time to see work get under way.
“The Royal Arcade is one of the most significant historical buildings in Bournemouth and any development has to follow the right processes,” he said.
“But we have been promised a number of developments over the last few years, we just want someone to get on with it. We need to see a good quality, sensitive development there.
“It is good to see these flats will be for owner-occupiers, supporting our first time buyers and stabilising our local population.”
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