LONG-held plans to build a Bournemouth ice stadium have taken a tentative step forward.

Bournemouth council is on the verge of agreeing an exclusivity agreement with a developer who believes he can work up a viable scheme for Kings Park.

The agreement would give Bournemouth Sport and Leisure Ltd – a special purpose vehicle set up by Burnham Leisure Ltd – until the end of June 2015 to carry out site investigations, finalise the detailed design and arrange finance for the scheme.

The council will not invite any other tenders for the development of the site or enter into negotiations with any other party during this exclusivity period.

Charles Hall, of Burnham Leisure Ltd, told the Echo they had been interested in the project for many years and believed it was financially viable. He said they hoped to be able to agree the exact terms of the exclusivity contract soon.

Cllr Lawrence Williams, cabinet member for tourism, leisure and culture, said: “The council is committed to working with the private sector to provide a new permanent ice facility for Bournemouth.

“Land at Kings Park has been earmarked as a suitable site for this development and the council secured outline planning permission in October 2010.

“We have given Bournemouth Sport and Leisure Ltd the opportunity to put together a proposal for this scheme with no cost to the council taxpayer.”

Bournemouth council invited tenders from potential ice stadium developers back in 2012 but received no formal bids. Expressions of interest were later received form Burnham Leisure Ltd, AFC Bournemouth and an ice stadium operator.

Discussions took place with all three parties but AFC Bournemouth and the ice stadium operator subsequently withdrew from the project.