PLANS are under way for a major new office block development on the site of two car parks in the Lansdowne area.

The proposed scheme for Cotlands Road and York Road car parks has been put forward by the Bournemouth Development Company (BDC), a joint venture between the council and Morgan Sindall Investments which is behind other big schemes in the town, such as the upcoming £150 million redevelopment of the Winter Gardens site.

Cabinet members are set to give their approval to a development plan for the Cotlands Road/ York Road site at a meeting on Wednesday. BDC will then start preparing a planning application, which could be submitted towards the end of this year.

Its vision is to build an employment-led development consisting of five blocks, including two office buildings of around 8,400sqm and 4,000sqm. Other blocks would contain residential accommodation and all would feature retail and café space on the ground floor.

A new multi-storey car park with 420 spaces is proposed on the site of the York Road surface car parks to replace the 390 spaces that would be lost with the new development, with an additional number of private spaces.

In its development plan, BDC says its scheme “aligns with the council’s long-term vision for this key part of the town centre”.

Lansdowne is regarded as Bournemouth’s ‘primary employment zone’ and Cotlands Road has already been earmarked in the council’s Town Centre Area Action Plan for a “significant proportion of employment space”.

However, BDC acknowledges in its plan that, despite there being a demand for new office accommodation in the Lansdowne area, the “challenge remains to establish the financial viability of office development given the low rental and capital values that are being paid in the town”.

In 2017, developer Watkin Jones Group was given planning permission for a residential-led scheme on Holdenhurst Road after claiming its previous plans for a 12-storey office block were not economically viable.

Cllr David Smith, cabinet member for planning, said: “The advantage of Bournemouth Development Company is that we can produce schemes that have a benefit for the whole town and not just for profit, which is the focus of private developers.”

He added: “I welcome an employment-led scheme on the Cotlands Road site. Bournemouth is a growing conurbation and it is important we bring in new employers and office space to provide jobs.

“The plans are at a very early stage, but I’m sure it will be a very positive scheme for the town.”

In its development plan, BDC states it will market the office buildings at an early stage of the project “and expects to secure an agreement to purchase or lease before the start of construction”.

It adds “delivery of the scheme will be a significant vote of confidence in the Lansdowne as an attractive location for working and living. This will be a catalyst for further investment in the area outside of the education sector.”

Construction of the new development is expected to begin in 2020, starting with the building of the new multi-storey car park. Once built, Cotlands Road car park would close in 2021 and work on the office buildings, followed by the new homes, would take place.