BOURNEMOUTH council is set to abandon plans to build a bus station in the town centre.

Cabinet members will be asked next week to halt attempts to compulsorily purchase the NCP car park site on Exeter Road.

The move will pave the way for developers Licet to go ahead with its £50m West Central leisure scheme of cinemas, shops and restaurants, which already has planning consent.

The Odeon cinema group announced last year that it would be the anchor tenant after pulling out of a rival scheme near the Pavilion.

Licet has said Nando’s, Ask Italian, Chiquitos, Coast to Coast, Frankie & Benny’s, Pezzo and TGI Friday’s are all confirmed for the development.

Earlier this year, the council insisted it would not back down over its plan to compulsorily purchase the site for a bus hub, and accused Licet of being “aggressive” over its determination to go ahead.

But it emerged yesterday that council officials had been in negotiation with Legal and General (Leisure), which is funding the scheme.

The move will give Licet a year to seek planning permission for changes to the plan and make “significant progress on site.”

The council says it wants design improvements and better landscaping.

This agreement would also see the council paid £200,000 for the part of Exeter Crescent adjacent to the West Central development site, £45,000 to improve bus facilities in Gervis Place and £55,000 (50 per cent) towards the costs incurred so far by the council in the CPO process. If the West Central development did not make sufficient progress within a year, the council would have first refusal on purchasing the site.

Council leader Cllr John Beesley said: “We very much welcome the agreement to financially support the council in improving passenger facilities in Gervis Place, which we know can be a difficult area for pedestrians. Reducing the impact of heavy congestion so close to Bournemouth’s wonderful listed gardens remains a priority for the council and my hope is that the plans we can draw up and implement with this funding will go some way to tackling that.”

He said the scheme which was granted permission was largely similar in design to one agreed in 2006.

“We expressed our concerns about the negative impact that the building would have on the Lower Gardens, and are very pleased that we have achieved agreement to make modifications to the building design in order to mitigate the worst effects of the development on one of the town’s most prized assets,” he said.

Andrew Ferguson, of Legal and General added: “I am pleased that we have been able to agree a way forward for this cinema development, which we have agreed to fund. Legal and General see Bournemouth as a vibrant, thriving town and we want to be a part of its success for many years to come.”