THE latest bid to build flats above the Royal Arcade in Boscombe has been submitted.

Developer Soller Five is seeking permission to create 26 flats and seven office units in the derelict upper floors of the shopping centre in Christchurch Road.

It is far from the first attempt to reshape the Grade II listed building's fortunes.

Soller's application says: "The vision is to bring back into use these empty spaces by providing much-needed high quality and reasonably-priced flat and office units to Boscombe.

"This application is made in the firm belief that this proposal is the best way to safeguard the heritage value of the Royal Arcade and form an important part of the regeneration of this vibrant local centre."

Soller says it will "sensitively refurbish and revitalise" the "run down and dilapidated dwellings" on the first and second floor of the arcade, in order to "regenerate the building back to its former glory".

Planning permission may not be the only difficulty the developer faces, as several previous schemes have fallen at various hurdles.

In 2012 Arnewood Estates outlined plans to create an artists’ community in the dilapidated accommodation, these came to nothing.

The following year new owner Oram Moss said it would seek to refurbish the upper floors as 32 two-bedroom flats, with the intention that they would be on the market that autumn. However by 2014 there was still no change.

That year developer Graham Warren, who had converted the former Westbourne Methodist Church to accommodate Tesco Express, was granted planning permission for a refurbishment including an exterior access gantry.

In 2015 developer John Reynolds of Inspired Assets won permission to convert the upper floor offices into 11 flats with a residents' gym, having had a previous bid for 16 studio flats refused.

Despite receiving planning permission, Mr Warren reportedly ran into difficulties obtaining consent from the freeholder, and Mr Reynolds' scheme likewise did not progress. Both permissions have since expired.

Soller says its scheme is similar to that of Mr Warren, but without the gantry. Its application says: "It is proposed to alter the interior of the first floor to create corridor access to each apartment in the middle section within the existing building envelope linking to existing internal stairs, as opposed to the previous external Victorian-style iron balcony and staircase arrangement on which there was an ownership dispute which prevented the previous scheme from going ahead (the ground floor is not within the applicant's control)."