STUDENT architects from Arts University Bournemouth are being drafted in to help revitalise Poole town centre.

The students have been asked to put forward ideas on how historical and architectural features of town centre buildings can be reinstated - and also how empty properties can be brought back to life.

This task has been set by business leaders, who are members of Poole's recently-agreed business improvement district (BID).

Earlier this year Poole traders voted by a two-thirds majority in favour of establishing a BID to promote the town centre.

The project will be funded by a 1.5 per cent levy on most businesses in the designated area, raising £330,000 for each year in the five-year BID period.

Poole BID covers the Quay, High Street, Dolphin Shopping Centre and surrounding streets.

BID director Gabi Naish said: "Poole has declined both as a retail and visitor destination over the last 20 years and major intervention is needed to reverse this.

"The BID aims to bring back the traditional life and vitality of the high street which will attract crowds as in the past.

"It is exciting to have this opportunity to work with talented students."

While Poole BID acknowledge some parts of the town centre and quay still reflect Poole's trading and cultural heritage, other parts, they say, are looking run down and neglected.

Issues identified by BID volunteers include badly maintained buildings, poor signage and advertising, empty shops and traffic problems.

Gabi said: "Poole has so much to offer to residents and traders but much of its heritage is in decline.

"With the help of the Arts University, the BID aims to highlight what can be done to reverse this and restore the qualities that have brought prosperity and popularity to the town centre for so many centuries.

"It is essential that the town looks to the future as well as celebrating the past, and we are excited about getting ideas from young people who will see Poole with fresh eyes."