BOURNEMOUTH council insists it will not back down and end a long-running showdown with a developer over a prime town centre car park.
Council leader John Beesley confirmed the council will continue to try and compulsorily purchase the NCP car park in Exeter Road, despite the fact Licet Developments are expected to start work there this week. Licet have planning permission to build a ‘West Central’ cinema and restaurant complex there and say they have secured funding from Legal and General, an anchor tenant in Odeon cinemas and agreements with a string of restaurant chains.
But Cllr Beesley questioned Licet’s claims and said their “aggressive” stance did not affect the council’s plans to build a bus hub on that site.
The council’s belief is that Licet is intending to undertake the minimum amount of work prior to the expiry of their planning permission in February in order to keep their consent alive.
“They (Licet) are very direct and quite aggressive in terms of their response to whatever they have been asked,” he said.
“All I’m saying is I’m not certain that I’ve seen or heard anything in terms of documentary proof that they are in a position to proceed.
“If they go ahead and proceed, they would be doing it at risk.
“I would have thought that their funders would have significant concerns about it.
“I would expect their funders’ confirmation will be subject to various requirements, one of which is the issue that the CPO has been resolved.”
He said the council was currently drawing up a planning application for a bus hub and would formally apply for a CPO once they were confident of getting planning permission.
“We will do our utmost to be successful but ultimately it’s not the decision of Licet or Bournemouth council. It’s the decision of the Secretary of State and I wouldn’t want to predict that.”
He also said he could not say how much the CPO process might cost or how long it would take.
If successful, the council expects to spend up to £5million building a bus hub to reduce congestion in Gervis Place.
Cllr Beesley admitted this would probably require some level of ongoing subsidy but said: “Councils can’t do everything just on financial grounds, they’re not expected to. I want to minimise public subsidy wherever I can.
“Our decisions are based on what is in the best interests of Bournemouth residents and our view is that this is the best and some may say only site that will deliver what’s required by a bus hub.
“The bus congestions issues in Gervis Place have got significantly worse in the last two years and there’s more of a will today than there was then by the bus companies to do something about it.”