RESIDENTS and business owners in Boscombe have reacted to plans to transform the town’s high street after Bournemouth secured almost £22 million in the government’s Town Deal fund.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed Bournemouth as one of 45 towns to receive a portion of the government’s £1 billion Town Deal fund in his budget presentation on Wednesday March 3.

The funding will mean that Boscombe is now set to benefit from a major regeneration programme which will include the replacement of the Sovereign Shopping Centre and a new public square where festivals and events will take place.

A Southbourne resident said: “I think there have been a lot of negative ideas put forward in the past, but the area does need rejuvenating. To get people coming back to the area, there needs to be some sort of regeneration.

“You have the most beautiful building here like the Royal Arcade which should be kept as they are but if there was a positive vibe in the town, then it was attract business and give the area the lift that it needs.

“I think if you ask anyone who lives here, they will say that they want something like this. If the feel and the vibe of the town changes along with this revamp, it can really change the place for the better.”

However, 89-year-old Gerald Werner, who grew up in Boscombe and now lives in Christchurch, believes that removal of the old-style building on the high street will also lead to the loss of the area’s character.

He said: “I think it is a shame because all of these old building will have to be knocked down. There are enough flats popping up all over the place.

“Boscombe used to be a lovely place to live but it has deteriorated over the last few years and there are some part of the town that need improving,

"I don’t think they should destroy the Sovereign Centre either, they should be encouraging the shops to go back in there.”

Business owners on the pedestrianised area of Christchurch Road have welcomed the plans but have raised concerns about how the work on the development will be carried out.

The owner of plastic free store Just One Swap said: “I think it is a good idea, but my worry is that they are planning on doing work to the car park which could really affect the amount of people that come here as there is not much street parking.

"We are only a small business, so I hope in their plans that they have considered what kind of support they are going to give to businesses that are already here.

"They can’t just close of the high street whilst they do it because it will affect the businesses that are already here. We have struggled during the pandemic so in five years, we will just about be getting level so if they have to close the high street, we will be hit hard once again."

However, Chaplin’s landlord Harry Seccombe, who is a member of the board, is looking forward to starting public consultations to begin finalising the plans for the £21.7m project.

He said: “It is brilliant for Boscombe to have this announcement; it is really going to put Boscombe on the map.

“It could be a huge investment and should attract a lot of attention from businesses and encourage them to move into the area.

“The idea of a town square in Boscombe is a brilliant idea in my opinion. One of the things I have struggled to put on is events, so to be able to have a space big enough to put up a stage for concerts, a vintage fare or car boot sale, it will be great for the community.”

Plans for the scheme include 560 new homes, 6,700sqm of retail and leisure floor space and 4,800 sqm of commercial, community and health floor space have been earmarked as part of the plans.

“We are still working out some of the details, but we won’t see shovels hit the ground for another five years or so.

“When we are able to, we will be holding of lots of consultations to get people’s views so we look forward to having physical meeting when we can.

“I have always thought that Boscombe has the potential to be a wonderful thriving area and the plans can make that into a reality.”