PLANS to “transform” the Debenhams building in the centre of Bournemouth have been put forward by its new owners.

A planning application for new terraced seating areas, balconies, a rooftop bar, tea lounge, canopy replacements and refurbishment of the “neglected” inside has been submitted.

Owners Sandstone Ltd and Verve Properties Ltd, which are carrying out similar improvements at The Avenue shopping centre, would “breathe new life” into both the building and surrounding area.

The Commercial Road building was bought from BF Propco, a subsidiary of The British Land Company, for £8.5 million at the end of 2019.

It had been leased to Debenhams on a deal that expired in 2034.

The firms’ agent, PowerHaus Consultancy, said the purchase was made “with the intention of upgrading the building and creating a flexible and vibrant building in the heart of the town centre”.

Last month they submitted a planning application for the “initial stage” of its plans, seeking permission to expand with a rooftop terrace and internal improvements.

It also includes the removal of the more recently added canopy and the reinstatement of the name of previous occupant, Bobby & Co.

Like the work at The Avenue, it proposes the use of plastic panelling and shipping containers.

A separate application for the use of the fourth floor and roof for a bar has also been lodged with BCP Council.

“Research and reflection upon this history has been a driving force of the design, particularly for the design on the front first floor balconies and ground floor entrance,” a statement submitted by the companies says.

“A 1933 front entrance elevation has been used as our primary inspiration for the design, which aims to be a rebirth and celebration of both the Bobby’s name and original architectural style.

“The reinstating of the tea lounge plans to further enhance this, as well as provide additional all-weather, day and night use.”

Their agent, PowerHaus Consultancy, said the work would create a “focal point” for both day and night life in Bournemouth.

The proposal has been welcomed by the council's cabinet member for regeneration, councillor Phil Broadhead, who said it would represent a "sizeable investment" in the town centre.

"The plans here, along with the early plans for the former Beales building and also the former Marks and Spencers buildings, point to a much more exciting and dynamic high street than we’ve had in the recent past," he said.

"If we wish our town centres to thrive, we need investment and reinvigoration. It’s clear that there are a number of investors who are putting their money where their mouth is and we look forward to working with them as we build our plans for the future.”

The planning application was submitted at the same time as developer Leo Developments revealed its intention to convert the vacant Beales building into a mix of residential and commercial uses.

THAT Group has alsoproduced plans to convert the Marks and Spencer site into space for shops and offices.

These have yet to be formally lodged with the council.

Council planning officers will consider the Debenhams scheme in the coming weeks.