A BID to have the Boscombe-based Bournemouth Centre for Community Arts protected under the Localism Act has been refused by Bournemouth Council.

Campaigners who applied to have the centre listed as an ‘Asset of Community Value’, giving community groups six months to bid for it before it goes on the market, had their hopes dashed by the decision last month.

The council said the building, which the Friends of the BCCA want to run as a community arts centre, had been closed for too long to be considered an asset.

Linda Ni’Man, from the Friends, said the group’s solicitor wrote to the council at the weekend for further information on its decision, and the group was considering a judicial review.

“We were shocked by the decision as the Act says the council should consider how long buildings have been closed on a case-by-case basis,” she said.

“Whether it has been closed too long to be considered has to depend on other circumstances, and they haven’t told us what they are.

“We are trying to get the council to look again at this issue. We will go for a judicial review if necessary but it is the last thing we want to do.”

The BCCA, between Haviland Road and Gladstone Road, is due to be part-demolished to make way for 14 affordable homes, leaving the Grade-II listed school building.

The Friends have put together a business plan to reopen the BCCA as a self-funding community arts centre.

“We have a plan for the centre which will bring in tourists and businesses, provide employment and raise aspirations among local young people,” she added.

“But any community group would be able to put forward a bid. The council aren’t going to know if there is a better future for the site unless they go through this process.

“The building is pretty sound, it needs about £73,000 of work done to it, which is a pittance in relative terms.

“The council spent so much on the waterfront but it has done nothing for Boscombe central.

“I hope they will reconsider.”

Bournemouth council leader John Beesley said: “The building closed more than five years ago and since then, planning permission has been obtained and funding secured for a new development on the site.

“We are now progressing this exciting new development, working with B2026 Trust which will provide much needed affordable family housing for local first-time buyers, as well as an arts and culture hub,”