THE possibility of a bus station returning to Bournemouth town centre has been ruled out by the council.

The area has been without a station since a huge fire destroyed the one based at Exeter Road in the summer of 1976. This site was later used as a car park and is now being transformed into a £50million leisure complex.

However, at October's Environment and Transport Overview Scrutiny Panel meeting, Cllr Phil Stanley-Watts highlighted the issue again, asking whether plans for at least a temporary bus hub could be considered.

He said residents have approached him with concerns about congestion in Gervis Place caused by buses and the resulting diesel fumes.

In response, transport portfolio holder Cllr Mike Greene said: "Unfortunately the opportunity to provide a bus hub right in the town centre has been lost with the development of the former NCP car park site.

"There are no plans for either a temporary or permanent bus hub elsewhere in the town centre.

"However, options are currently being investigated to improve the existing public transport facility in Gervis Place, which might also deliver a section of the council's Grand Garden Walk initiative.

"Implementation on the ground will be carried out as and when funding allows and I will ensure the Environment and Transport Overview Scrutiny Panel have the opportunity to get involved at all appropriate stages."

The Grand Garden Walk initiative, part of the council's Town Centre Vision, includes a proposal to widen the pavements on Exeter Road and Gervis Place.

The council abandoned plans to build a bus station on the Exeter Road site last year, having previously attempted to acquire the land for this reason using a compulsory purchase order.

This paved the way for developers Licet to go ahead with its West Central leisure scheme, set to be completed next year.