BOURNEMOUTH council is on the verge of submitting a formal planning application to build a town centre bus hub, despite not owning the site they want to build on.

The NCP car park at Exeter Road is the subject of a fiercely-contested land wrangle – NCP and development partners Licet want to build a multiplex cinema and restaurant complex there but Bournemouth council feel it is the only suitable site for a bus hub.

It wants to get a compulsory purchase order for the site and will formally submit this application once it is sure of getting planning approval.

Planning officers were recently asked to consider whether the council would need to carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) as part of its planning application for a bus hub.

EIA’s are required if it is felt the proposed development would have a significant impact on the local environment. In this case planning officers decided it was not needed as most of the site is already in commercial use as a car park and the remainder of the site is not considered to be an environmentally sensitive or vulnerable location.

Unless this decision is called in for further scrutiny, it paves the way for the council to formally submit a planning application for a bus hub.

The council has previously stated that a bus hub would cost up to £5m and would probably require an ongoing subsidy.

Cllr John Beesley, leader of the council, previously told the Echo: “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 congestion 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.”