CENTRAL Bournemouth will be the priority for new hotel development, according to the latest local plan consultation.

Along with a number of options for existing hotels in the town, the issues and options stage of the Local Plan also details how to deal with the flex in the industry.

The document, which is out to consultation until March 25- an extended deadline from its original date on March 7 - says "visitors to the BCP area are crucial to the local economy, bringing spend into the area and providing employment."

"The Local Plan will need to consider how to maintain a sufficient range and supply of visitor accommodation to help sustain a competitive visitor economy into the future", it adds.

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A recommendation in the plans says there are three options for existing hotels including resisting the loss of them within the three main town centres, resisting the loss but support residential development alongside hotel redevelopment and consider a more market driven approach more flexible to loss of hotels.

The document says: "We are currently gathering evidence on hotel and visitor accommodation which will inform future policy on new hotel developments and retention of existing hotel stock.

"The work is at an early stage and the issues need to be examined and discussed further before policy approaches on visitor

accommodation are consulted upon." It adds: "Prioritising central Bournemouth would give a clear direction to the market regarding our priorities. We could consider designated core hotel frontages along parts of Bournemouth town centre where existing hotels would be protected, and new hotels would be encouraged.

"This would provide a focus for new development and encourage hotel development.

"While there are fewer hotels within Poole and Christchurch town centres, we could consider areas where existing hotels within these centres are also protected.

"Alternatively, we could allow hotels to redevelop alongside the provision of residential uses or give consideration to a more

flexible approach to assist in the exit of poorer quality hotel stock which does not have a realistic future."

The plan also touches on visitor attractions and states some sites are outside of the town centres on green belt land.

Again, there are three options for consideration including exceptional circumstances for these sites or focusing new attractions on existing centres.

"A range of visitor and cultural attractions exist across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

"However, our evidence suggests that trips to museums/art galleries is relatively low, with significant leakage to London. The BCP Cultural Enquiry identified the opportunity to enhance cultural infrastructure across the area creating a network of cultural hubs."

The plans mention mooted leisure and visitor attractions around Hurn with the sites all situated in the green belt and in a sensitive area due to the proximity to a protected area of Dorset Heathland, Moors River SSSI, the Hurn heritage conservation area, listed buildings, quiet walking routes on existing lanes and Bournemouth Airport.

The consultation adds: "Due to the location of the sites within the Green Belt if we were going to consider any of them for allocation we would have to consider if exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated.

"We have not come to any conclusion about whether any of these sites would be suitable for leisure development or if exceptional circumstances exist."

Read more: Council EXTEND Local Plan consultation after pressure from residents

The issues and options consultation is open to feedback, responses and alternative ideas until March 25.

Details can be found online at haveyoursay.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/localplan. Residents can view the consultation online, download and print a PDF copy or pick up a summary paper survey from one of the council’s libraries.

Following the issues and options consultation, the council will produce a draft Local Plan, which would go out for public feedback.

The local authority currently expects to submit its Local Plan to the Secretary of State in spring next year before an independent planning inspector examines it in detail in autumn 2023.

If all of these hurdles are cleared, the policy document would be adopted and used to inform decisions on planning applications from early 2024.