THE deputy leader of BCP Council has suggested one of Bournemouth’s main shopping streets could be transformed to focus on restaurants by allocating part of the road for outdoor eating.

Westover Road is one of five areas the council has prioritised for potential redevelopment through planning policy work.

And, speaking last week, its deputy leader, councillor Phil Broadhead, said one possible idea was to make it an “al fresco dining zone” with outdoor seating created by reducing the road to one lane.

The suggestion was made by Cllr Broadhead during a discussion about the work of the council’s planning department which is set to have its budget increased to tackle a backlog of applications.

Within the £250,000, which will be discussed by its cabinet next week, is £30,000 to help draw up priorities for major “strategic” sites across the conurbation.

This will include consideration of planning policies for parts of Bournemouth town centre and Poole Quay aimed at regenerating them.

Cllr Broadhead said these areas were “ripe for investment” but that the ambition of its existing policies did not facilitate it.

“We've got some key areas, typically areas that are wrapped up in a lot of heritage or areas that are really ripe for investment, but frankly our policy ambition isn't matched there,” he said.

He said five places had been identified “to begin with” with reports produced for each before they are brought into documents used to decide planning applications.

“Westover Road is one example in Bournemouth, it's clearly seen better days and one could argue it is dragging that whole area of the town down,” he added. “It's also pretty clear that it's got amazing potential, but there is not any clarity of what could be allowed there.

“I've got a vision that I'd like to see it as more of an alfresco dining zone and maybe bring the road down to one lane.”

He said no definitive ideas had yet been considered but that there needed to be “clarity” over what types of development are favoured by the council in particular areas.

Concerns have been raised that the road, which in the past has been called the Bond Street of Bournemouth, due to its higher-end stores, is on a “major decline” due to recent closures.

Another area being considered is the area around the former Marks and Spencer site in Bournemouth, the Civic Offices in Christchurch and Poole Quay.

He said there was “massive potential” for the areas and said that, as well as helping to deal with the backlog in its planning service, the extra money would help the council draw up priorities for future schemes.