BOURNEMOUTH and Poole councils have drafted proposals to relocate seafront offices as part of plans for closer working.

The authorities are making an expression of interest for government funding to support the project which could see Bournemouth council move from its base near Bournemouth Pier to Durley Chine.

If a grant is awarded, the councils would then work to convert the buildings to be brought into commercial use.

The councils are in the process of putting forward their ideas to the government for funding through its Coastal Communities Fund and, if approved, would submit a formal application in the autumn.

It follows the completion of the Pier Approach project which was partly paid for through a £1.9m grant awarded through the scheme.

Andrew Emery, Bournemouth council resort development and strategic planning manager, said: “Having completed the transformation at Pier Approach, and as a joint tourism service, Bournemouth and Poole are making an expression of interest for future combined funding opportunities from the Coastal Communities Fund.

“It is very early days to confirm what this funding will facilitate, although key elements under consideration are environmental initiatives such as recycling and waste management issues and furthering efficient joint working practices across the seafront.

“This could involve looking at proposals to centrally locate beach management facilities for the whole bay which in turn creates opportunities to explore options for new leisure facilities east of Bournemouth pier, subject to future agreements with landowners.

“Should the Coastal Communities Fund invite us to submit a full bid in the autumn, a detailed plan would be prepared outlining proposals against any funding.

“This would be a highly competitive bid against proposals from across England and Wales, and securing funding is certainly not a given.”

Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns said that the plans involved relocating Bournemouth council’s seafront staff from offices just east of the pier to Durley Chine where a visitor centre would be established.

The vacated offices which he described as being in a “prime” location would then be made available for commercial use.

He said: “In the next round of Coastal Communities Fund, the bid will be around this site here and it will be about moving the seafront offices along to Durley Chine with a proper visitor centre, environmental centre and redeveloping, bringing this into proper commercial use.

“This is prime territory. There should be businesses here catering for locals and visitors and paying substantial business rates to the council which can be used in other parts of the town.

“I still think there are gaps in our offering. When you come down here during the summer – and I live up in Alum Chine – you see the queues at Vesuvio, at the cafe next to West Beach, at Harry Ramsdens here.

“I still think there is great opportunity to have more seafront businesses that cater for the needs of the people who come to visit us.”