BOSCOMBE Spa Village re-development takes a massive step to becoming reality when work to transform the pier begins on Monday.

The first phase of work on the pier area will see the restoration and refurbishment of the listed entrance building.

Existing toilets will be replaced with a new block to the west of the pier and the remaining internal space converted into a caf and shop.

Both are set to be open for the Easter weekend, Bournemouth Borough Council announced.

Further works to the pier structure which includes strengthening and decking the pier neck, removal of the Mermaid Hall and adding a shorter new T-shaped pier end will start in April and are set to be completed in September.

Cabinet member for environment and leisure, Cllr Bron Littlewood said: "We are all very excited about really getting started on this fabulous re-development.

"Improving the facilities at Boscombe Pier is a pivotal move - the renewed amenities will breathe life back into the pier entrance building in time for our Easter visitors."

The start of the work will be marked by a short ceremony on Monday at noon.

Council chiefs hope the ambitious scheme will transform the drab area into a tourist magnet to rival that of Bournemouth's main seafront.

The plan to revamp Boscombe seafront dates back some 30 years and has seen several high-profile schemes mooted over the years - none of which have come to fruition.

Boscombe seafront has seen little development since the 1950s and the infrastructure is said to be in desperate need of renovation following the closure of the remainder of the pier in 2005.

The £8 million scheme will be built on the site of the legendary Boscombe Spa Waters first discovered in Victorian times and reputed to have rejuvenating properties.

Next door, Barratt Homes is to build 169 one and two-bedroom apartments in nine blocks with the starting price at £374,995 to be known as Honeycombe Beach.

There will be 40 different types of apartment of different sizes and specifications in the complex designed to look like a Cornish village.

The three-year project will see the first two blocks built by Spring 2008 and the project completed by the following year.

In addition, Boscombe's new artificial surf reef is the first in Europe. The council believes that the reef to be located between the first two groynes to the east of Boscombe Pier and open in September this year, will provide a big boost to Bournemouth's surfing image, to rival Bude and Newquay.

The restoration of Boscombe Chine Gardens has already taken place with a fantastic new water feature for children recently unveiled.

The Boscombe Spa Village re-development will see the refurbishment of Overstrand building including changing facilities, surf school, shops, restaurant and super chalets.

Funding for the development comes from the sale of part of the car park land behind the Honeycombe Chine Overstrand Complex to the east of Boscombe Pier.

Brian Cummings, senior seafront manager, said the project would make the seafront "cleaner, tidier and friendlier" and attract a wide range of people.