SENIOR councillors in Bournemouth have been told that a possible £25 million grant may be the last chance to revitalise the centre of Boscombe.

Members of Bournemouth council’s cabinet agreed to submit an ‘expression of interest’ for a share of the government’s £675 million town centre regeneration fund.

A report to councillors had warned that the main retail area in Boscombe “urgently required” work and urged them to support the bid.

Announced at the end of last year, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has set aside funding to support “bold new visions” for town centres.

The maximum share any individual bid can apply for is £25 million and the council’s cabinet member for economic growth, Cllr Philip Broadhead, said he was confident that it could receive it.

“It’s not just that we would like to get this money,” he said at Wednesday’s meeting. “We should get this money."

Footfall in the centre of Boscombe has fallen 24 per cent in the last three years and 18 per cent of its retail units are unoccupied.

Requesting councillors’ support to submit an expression of interest for a share of the funding, Cat McMillan, the council’s communities manager, said investment was urgently required.

“If we don’t start to take action in Boscombe now we might not be able to secure its future,” she said.

Cllr Jane Kelly, cabinet member for regeneration and a Boscombe West ward councillor, said the opportunity to apply for such a large share of money was one that should not be missed.

“This is such a big opportunity for Boscombe, the like of which we might not see again,” she said.

“The high street is the best place to shop – especially if you are elderly or disabled. We just need to get it going again.”

Cabinet members unanimously approved the submission of an expression of interest ahead of next week’s deadline.

Cllr Kelly added that funding, if the council’s bid was successful, would not be in place for about a year.