THE demolition of Boscombe’s BCCA building moved closer with work on tearing down the former community centre’s exterior under way.

Last week campaigners dressed in Victorian clothes held a mock funeral march for the Bournemouth Centre for Community Arts, which has faced demolition since plans for affordable homes were approved in June last year.

However Bournemouth council maintains that the Gladstone Mews development will provide much-needed housing in the area, while a “creative hub” established in the remaining Grade II-listed rooms of the former school will provide ample space for the arts.

Cllr Jane Kelly, cabinet member for regeneration and partnerships, said: “The centre closed in 2007 because it was unviable to keep it open. There weren’t enough people using it.

“These affordable homes are a very important part of the regeneration of Boscombe.

“The plans aren’t fully decided yet but there should be around 20 creative industries based in pods in the creative hub; young entrepreneurs working on creative projects with like-minded people.

“Eventually ownership of the whole site will be transferred to the Bournemouth 2026 community land trust, a charity which will invest any profits into other regeneration projects in Boscombe and West Howe.”

The Gladstone Mews development will include 10 two-bed homes and one three-bed on the site between Haviland Road and Gladstone Road, with gardens, allotment and orchard.

The scheme will be funded through a £1.5 million interest free loan from the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, with separate council and grand-funding for the £415,000 hub.

The council plans for ownership of the land to eventually be transferred to a community land trust set up to keep house prices affordable and give priority to Boscombe buyers.

Campaigners from the Friends of the BCCA have opposed the council’s plans, claiming that there was a shortage of community space in Boscombe and calling for the whole building to be used as an arts centre.

The development is expected to be completed by next summer.