PLANS have been lodged to demolish much of Bournemouth’s Odeon cinema building and put up a 10-storey block of shops and flats.

The application by Libra Homes would keep the Westover Road cinema’s distinctive frontage with its colonnaded arches – but replace most of the rest in favour of a high-rise building.

There would be two floors of shopping, 84 flats and 97 car park spaces.

The cinema was sold last year for £3.8million to property developer Libra Homes. The company also bought the ABC.

Odeon is to move to the new BH2 leisure development off the Square next February, spelling the end of cinema-going on Westover Road after almost 90 years.

Libra Homes has submitted its outline application along with a report from Goadsby Planning & Environment, which says the new building would have an “elegant contemporary design, incorporating large elements of glazing” and would “help to create a memorable townscape”.

It acknowledges that the site is outside the area designated for tall buildings and the plans do not have the amount of retail space required by local planning policies. But it says a departure from the planning policies is justified.

It argues the plans would “sustain and enhance heritage assets”, improve the appearance of Hinton Road and improve the links between Westover and Hinton roads.

The developer has also submitted a heritage assessment by Heritage Vision Ltd, which acknowledges that the loss of the cinema will erode the character of the area as an “entertainment hub”.

“However, it is important to note that the site of the cinema has specifically been excluded from a conservation area,” it adds.

It adds: “The loss of the building’s original use is regrettable but it is understood that there are matters that indicate that the retention of the building as a cinema is not viable.”

The plans “can preserve elements of the building that are identified as being of heritage significance”, it says.

But James Weir, heritage and conservation officer for Bournemouth Civic Society, is hoping councillors will reject the plans.

“We are very disappointed that the developer has chosen to proceed with this outline scheme, which gives little regard to the character of the area, the building’s significance or the potential for reuse as a leisure or cultural venue,” he said.

“We shall be encouraging the council fully to apply their policy to only support development which preserves or enhances the significance of locally-listed buildings.”