BATTLE lines have been drawn after a public consultation over the future use of Wimborne Square.

Proposals to divide the square into three areas for use as an ‘al fresco cafe’ have been submitted to the district council.

As part of the proposals, only those businesses bordering the divides – Lloyds TSB, Wimborne Interiors and Ockenden and Hemming jewellers – will be allowed to set up outdoor cafe facilities, even though none offer refreshments.

The plans have attracted criticism from some, including Costa Coffee franchisee Mark Brown, and went before the public at Allendale House on Monday evening.

Organisations in the town, including the Business Improvement District (BID) team and the Wimborne Chamber of Trade, attended the meeting to have their say on the plans.

BID chairman Philip Maunder said the committee wanted to see an open and fair process for deciding which trader would be allocated a space, while Chamber of Trade president and councillor Diann March said the group would prefer not to have any specific businesses occupy any part of the square.

The chamber is also calling for more seating and trees.

Cllr March said: “The area looks stark, and we want to see its appearance softened with non-commercial seating and some trees.

“That proposal was backed by many of the people who attended the meeting.”

Wimborne’s mayor, Cllr Andy Hampton, said the town council would prefer to allow only those businesses that front onto the square to have an opportunity to trade from it.

However, if suitable businesses fail to come forward, town councillors agreed that the opportunity should be passed on to other businesses.

Philip Maunder, chairman of Wimborne’s Business Improvement District (BID) team, said: “Really, the thrust of our argument is that taking on a space in the Square should be part of a fair and open process.

“Our aim is to serve every business in Wimborne, not just some of them, and to us, it seems like every trader should have the opportunity to be involved in this process.”

Lindsay Cass of the district council said views expressed in the meeting would be taken into consideration, and a proposal is to be put to the planning committee following a consultation with the Town Centre Liason Group.

The plans will be heard at a committee meeting in late February or early March.