THE multi-million-pound plans for the regeneration of Boscombe town centre have earned the support of Bournemouth Civic Society – although the group labelled the project a “very last chance” for the area to be improved.

The transformation of Boscombe in the form of the £21million scheme for a major overhaul is currently in its infancy.

Current proposals being worked up by the Bournemouth Towns Fund Board include the replacement of the Sovereign Centre, restoration of Haviland Road, retention of the Sovereign Centre car park, a new square on the pedestrianised section of Christchurch Road, 560 new homes, a village hall, more community and commercial space and the restoration of the Royal Arcade.

Providing a response to the plans, a spokesperson for Bournemouth Civic Society: “The Bournemouth Civic Society strongly believes that the new Boscombe plan is probably the very last chance substantially to improve, in an appropriately restrained fashion, the residential and retail structure of a most important part of eastern Bournemouth, and in the process to greatly reduce the present problems of the area.”

The society said “generally speaking” it welcomed the overall plan and form of the proposals.

“Apart from the planned extensive renovation of the Royal Arcade, we think the most important aspects of the scheme are the appearance of the new square and the general design of the residential neighbourhoods north and south of Christchurch Road,” said the spokesperson.

“A new open space would be a most welcome addition in reviving the community spirit of the area – but its design must be complimentary to the adjacent, fine late nineteenth century townscape of central Boscombe.”

As reported, Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said a state of the art ‘Shard-like’ building could be progressed.

The Conservative politician said he had held positive discussions with potential developers and investors to kickstart the idea.

However, the Bournemouth Civic Society spokesperson said: “Any idea that a so-called ‘Bournemouth Shard’ should be put up in this place is a complete non-starter. The predominant appearance of the townscape of the central area of the resort has always been relatively low rise and horizontal.

“Certainly, two large belvedere towers with elegant receding domes may eventually be attached to the new side facades of the new square and the present, rather grand design of the massive block on the north side of this planned open space may be toned down by a less predominant, sensitive alternative.

“But such visual caprices cannot be compared to the bizarre and over the top, high rise structures that have gone up within the central parts of Brighton in recent years, to observe what an aesthetically debilitating effect these developments have had on the context of the exceptionally fine maritime Georgian terraces along the sea front of the resort.”

The society said it was pleased with the ideas for low rise, terraced residential accommodation for Haviland, Gladstone and Hawkwood roads.

The Boscombe project has been allocated £21.7million in funding through the government’s £1billion Town Deal fund.

Detailed business plans for each part of the overall transformation need to be drawn up by the Bournemouth Towns Fund Board and public consultations will be held to finalise the exact parameters of the plan.

Physical work on the regeneration work is not expected to begin for another five years, with funding delivered in instalments.