ANOTHER long-empty unit in Bournemouth's BH2 centre could soon be occupied – by a 'virtual reality' studio.

Centre operator Legal & General/Licet Holdings is seeking change of use permission for the smallest unit in the complex, next to the also empty unit until recently earmarked for a casino.

Last month the operator sought planning permission to allow various leisure activities in that unit, stating that the casino plans from Aspers were unlikely to materialise, and it had had interest from ten-pin bowling and indoor golf providers.

Now the neighbouring unit could be occupied by a firm offering cutting edge visual technology.

In its application, L&G/Licet says: "Unit UG5 is currently vacant, and is one of the smallest units within the BH2 complex.

"It is proposed to be leased to a new local company that will offer virtual reality facilities for leisure, education and business."

It adds: "The location is eminently suited to leisure uses, particularly family entertainment, which will be complimentary to the other uses at BH2.

"This will further strengthen this part of the town centre, and will compliment other schemes and projects that are planned for the area."

The new use class, as with the neighbouring unit, permits a range of different activities, including cinemas, music and concert halls, bingo and dance halls, swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums and areas for indoor sports (except motor sports or firearms).

Town centre councillors and planning board members have previously expressed "disappointment" with the proposal to open a casino in the centre, and concerns about having a gambling venue close to a cinema and family restaurants.

L&G/Licet said although it had received planning permission for the use, proposed operator Aspers was "not in a position to proceed". The firm had expressed commitment opening a casino in Bournemouth, with BH2 as its "preferred location".

Last month ward councillor David Smith said he was "delighted" with the new "family entertainment" use proposed there.