A FORMER Argos store at a Bournemouth retail park could return to use as a frozen food store and coffee shop.

The owners of the Ringwood Road Retail Park have submitted an application to BCP Council’s planning deparment for the unit which has been vacant since February.

BMO Real Estate Partners want to divide the unit so the majority of it can be occupied by Farmfoods, while a small section, less than 15 per cent of the floorspace, would be taken on by Starbucks.

Planning permission is not required for the subdivision of the unit, however, it is needed for the external works associated with the two new occupants.

A planning and retail statement by consultants Montagu-Evans on behalf of the applicant said: “Farmfoods is currently not represented in Bournemouth, with the closest store being approximately 50km away. Therefore, the development proposals will introduce a new specialist operator, providing increased choice and competition to the existing market in Bournemouth.

“The development will create approximately 32 new jobs at the site, and represents a significant investment by the applicant, Farmfoods and Starbucks, while at the same time securing the long-term occupation of the unit.”

The application does not relate to the mezzanine floor in the unit.

The planning and retail statement said would contribute to job creation, economic growth and investment in Bournemouth and the wider area.

It also said that the sequential assessment to consider if there are any more preferable sites for the retailers found no such sites were found in Bournemouth town centre or any other designated centres within the district.

The standalone Argos store vacated the unit in February. In 2020, the retailer said it would cease trading at 420 standalone UK sites by March 2024, with owner Sainsbury’s opening 150 Argos outlets within its supermarkets.

BMO Real Estate Partners' application for the unit is currently being assessed by council planners.

A Starbucks spokesperson said: "We are always looking for new locations and opportunities to bring the Starbucks Experience to customers in the UK, but at this time we have no news to share about plans in Bournemouth."