A CAFÉ chain is seeking permission to expand its business into Westbourne.

Bristol-based Boston Tea Party has applied to BCP Council to take over the disused NatWest building in Poole Road which has been targeted by squatters.

The chain, which has 24 outlets across the south west and west of England, has a café in Ringwood but none in Dorset.

“Boston Tea Party looks for prominent locations in busy commercial areas where their services support a mixed clientele,” a statement submitted by its architect says.

“It is hoped the café can both provide an informal meeting place for local professionals and their clients and a place for residents, either from the immediate area or from further afield, to meet and dine.

“The business continues to be robust and able to invest in the improvement of its operations.”

The statement adds that the café would source local produce “as much as possible”.

The chain has applied for a change of use of the former NatWest building as well as to replace some of its windows and doors.

Earlier this year a group of squatters moved in, leaving it in a “disgusting” state before being evicted, according to people living in adjoining flats.

They left the building a day before a High Court hearing was due to be held on the issue and it was then boarded up and secured.

NatWest closed the branch in October 2017 with the building remaining empty since then.

Boston Tea Party submitted its application last month and has said the café would create 15 full-time and 10 part-time jobs.

If the application is approved, it would be able to open from 7am until 8pm seven days a week.

An outdoor area at the back of the building would also be created, reducing the number of parking spaces from 11 to three.

The application will be considered by council planning officers in the coming weeks.