PLANNING permission has been granted for a scheme to “transform” the former Debenhams department store in Bournemouth.

Last week BCP Council approved the plans for the key town centre site, saying there “needs to be flexibility to keep the landmark building in active use”.

It comes as the developer's Verve Properties revealed more information for of its plans for the building on Monday, including second floor art gallery and a food and market hall.

The planning application was submitted at the end of 2020 following the purchase of the building for £8.5 million the previous year.

Debenhams did have a lease on the building until 2034 but the chain has now gone into administration and its Bournemouth store is due to close after tomorrow (May 12).

Proposals for the building included a rooftop terrace bar, outside seating and a series of internal and external improvements.

Among these it first revealed the plan to remove the more modern front canopy and the reinstatement of the Bobby’s name which was last seen when Debenhams took over the store in 1972.

Bournemouth Echo: Bournemouth Square and Bobby's in 1965. Picture: Gordon ElsworthBournemouth Square and Bobby's in 1965. Picture: Gordon Elsworth

“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,” a statement submitted with the plans said.

Concerns were raised by the council about some of the designs, particularly the modern roof terrace and its impact on the historic building and the outside seating area.

But with both reduced in scale, planning officer Steve Davies has approved the scheme.

Read more: Remembering Bournemouth's Bobby's department store ahead of its comeback

“Given the obvious retail problems in the town centre and the need to keep this important building in active use, I consider the proposal is acceptable subject to conditions to maintain shopping on the ground floor and to control hours, extraction and waste in the future,” his report said.

“The alterations to the building in the main will radically improve its appearance. The proposed rooftop terrace will have an impact on this building however, with the changes made and the other benefits of the scheme, the proposal is reasonable.”

Bournemouth Echo: Old postcard of Bobby's from Harry Dipple of BlandfordOld postcard of Bobby's from Harry Dipple of Blandford

His report added: There needs to be flexibility to keep this local landmark building in active use and on balance I consider the proposals acceptable."

Previously, Bournemouth council had refused requests for outside seating in the area, but Mr Davies said this was now "encouraged" due to the tourism benefit.

A separate application to allow more flexible use of the building was approved in February.

On Monday, Verve revealed more details of its proposals for the building, including an art gallery, a salon, a spa, a beauty area, delis, restaurants, a cafe, bars, a microbrewery, a market and a garden area.

With planning permission now in place, it said the first elements of this would open in mid-July with the remainder following gradually into 2022.