THE company funding a £50m leisure complex in Bournemouth has said it will be the ‘most exciting’ of its kind in a decade.

The NCP car park on the former bus station site in Exeter Road closed on Sunday evening so that work could start on the West Central scheme, due for completion in 2016.

It is due to include restaurants, shops and a 2,000-seat, 10-screen Odeon cinema, which would mean the closure of the two Odeon-owned cinemas in Bournemouth’s Westover Road.

Restaurant operators signed up to the scheme include Nandos, Handmade Burger, Coast to Coast, Prezzo, Ask Italian and TGI Fridays.

Andrew Ferguson, head of leisure at Legal & General Property, said: “Without doubt this is the most exciting cinema and restaurant-led leisure development that the UK has seen in the past 10 years and we are proud to act as its forward funding partner.

“Backed by some of the UK’s top operators, we believe this development will not only add a vibrant, high quality leisure offer that strongly appeals to the local population and visitors from much further afield, but it will act as a major catalyst to Bournemouth’s wider regeneration,” he added.

Developers Licet, site owner NCP and funding partner Legal and General Property took part in a photocall to publicise the scheme in January.

At that time they were involved in a legal wrangle with Bournemouth council, which was trying to obtain a compulsory purchase order for the site and scupper the scheme.

But in the summer the council abandoned these plans, deciding instead to give developers a year to make improvements and progress the scheme.

Chris Dymond of Licet Holdings said: “With the continued growth in short breaks and staycations, this will be another major draw to attract visitors and we will look forward to receiving our first customers in late 2016.”