AN OPERATOR has been secured for a food hall in Bournemouth town centre department store Bobby’s.

Owner of the former Debenhams building Verve Properties has said it is hoped the new offering will open in early 2023.

An application for a premises licence for Bobby’s Food Market has been submitted to BCP Council by Sandstone.

It is seeking permission to supply alcohol for on- and off-site consumption, to provide late night refreshment and play both live and recorded music.

A food hall was always part of the plans for the phased transformation of the site, which looks over Bournemouth Square.

Ashley Nicholson, director of Verve Properties who own the Bobby’s building, said terms had been agreed with an operator for the food hall, with plans for a street food hall offering.

He said it is hoped more details will be announced soon with an opening likely in the new year.

“It was always our intention to utilise the first floor, with its beautiful arched windows and balconies as a food hall with independent street food operators,” Mr Nicholson said.

Bobby’s opened its doors in September last year. It currently offers a beauty hall, art gallery, ice cream parlour, a pan-Asian and sushi restaurant, a makers shop and a watch repair outlet.

Councillor Philip Broadhead, BCP Council deputy leader, said Bobby’s had played a part in helping the town centre be a “step ahead” of other regions in terms of reinvigoration.

“We’re really fortunate in the BCP region to have some incredible businesses really leading the way in the future of the high streets,” Cllr Broadhead said.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Philip BroadheadCllr Philip Broadhead

“Across the country, many core high streets are seeing plummeting year-on-year footfall and have gaping chasms in their hearts, with former Debenhams buildings littering the vast majority.

“Here, we have seen a 30 per cent year-on-year increase in footfall on our major high streets, and businesses such as Bobby’s redefining what the future offering is with their amazing investment as they work through the phases of the building’s regeneration.

“Furthermore, in Bournemouth, we are now finalising our plans for a reinvigoration of both Westover Road and the Avenue Road quarter, alongside seeing new investments such as The Ivy coming in.

“There’s still a way to go to see the 'new' high streets reach their full potential, but we are certainly a full step ahead of many others in the UK.”

BCP Council’s licensing team consultation on application for Bobby’s Food Market is open until June 27.

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