A PETITION to put a stop to plans to develop on one of Southbourne’s car parks has gathered more than a thousand signatures.

Earlier this year, Bournemouth cabinet members agreed to close Southbourne Crossroads car park and put the site up for sale.

The council said the 78-space car park operated at a loss.

However, Southbourne resident Francis Owtram wants the council to re-consider its decision to sell the car park, which he maintains is an “important resource” for local residents and businesses.

He said the car park was “packed” during the recent Bournemouth Air Festival.

“There is a lot of community opposition to the idea of building on the land, which we understand was gifted to the people of Southbourne by its founder Dr Thomas Compton.

“Once it is sold off for private flats, it will be lost to the people of Southbourne for ever. It gets packed on sunny days such as day one and day two of the Air Festival, and I think it is an important resource for the Southbourne Crossroads' local businesses. It allows Southbourne and Bournemouth residents and visitors to enjoy a stress-free day in the area and on the beach.”

The petition follows a similar plea by Fiona McArthur, chair of Southbourne-on-Sea Business Association, following news the council was considering redeveloping part of the town’s other main car park at Woodside Road.

The plans were put on hold so the council could “better understand demand for car parking in the area”.

Mr Owtram says maintenance of the Southbourne Crossroads car park and its surrounding businesses, including Roots restaurant, Schooner café, Bistro on the Beach, and Ashley’s Fish and Chips, “needs to be supported”.

Gary Platt, head of property at Bournemouth council, said: “The Southbourne Crossroads proposal was considered by Cabinet on April 26 following consultation with ward councillors and the Southbourne-on-Sea Business Association.

“The decision made was to declare this car park surplus to requirements and to authorise its sale on the open market. We expect marketing to commence in the near future.”