BOURNEMOUTH council's public/private partnership could be used to develop areas of Christchurch and Poole.

A councillor and member of the Bournemouth Development Company board, David d'Orton-Gibson said as much in an email to members of the borough's Conservative group seen by the Echo.

Purporting to "provide the facts" about the 20-year partnership with Morgan Sindall Investments and "dispel some of the myths", Cllr d'Orton-Gibson said: "It may be helpful to explain that though the original vision was to develop within Bournemouth there is nothing directly in the contract that prevents us doing projects outside Bournemouth but in the locality.

"This will mean that this could become a vehicle to further improvements across a wider area."

The future of the partnership when Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councils merge next year has yet to be disclosed.

Bournemouth Echo: Christchurch and Mudeford  aerial by Stephen Bath

Opponents to the merger have raised concern in the past that councillors representing Bournemouth may use their larger numbers to push through unpopular developments in the neighbouring boroughs.

In his email, Cllr d'Orton-Gibson said the partnership binds the council to "supplying" town centre sites, namely public car parks, for development, or otherwise paying compensation for the "loss" of the sites.

He said that the cost of withdrawal from the agreement "will run into millions".

The councillor said the purpose of the partnership was to give the council control over what was developed on the car parks as "planning is too blunt a tool to ensure we get what we want", and to show "confidence in the town from a developer's point of view".

Bournemouth Echo: Aerial of Poole Harbour from Bournemouth Helicopters

The partnership was "not about making money" he said, but about wider, long-term socio-economic benefits.

Cllr d'Orton-Gibson calls on members to restrict their involvement with schemes to "the development of the plans, not once they are ready to build".

"This is not in any way intended to stifle people sharing their views on different projects, it is simply intended to bring it to the beginning of the process before large sums of money are spent," he said.

He called on councillors to "leave it to the officers" as "they are the subject experts and need the room to act as such".

The company has completed housing schemes on the former Berry Court, Leyton Mount and Madeira Road West car parks, and has planning permission for the St Stephen’s Road and Winter Gardens car parks.

Plans for the Durley Road car park were rejected by the planning board.

The other sites earmarked for development include the Bath Road, Central, Cotlands, Eden Glen, Glen Ferm, Richmond Hill, Town Hall Annex and West Hill car parks.

The council says parking spaces will be replaced like-for-like in new multi-storeys.