THE first visible signs of progress in the Castlepoint car park saga have appeared - but bosses have given their clearest indication yet that work will not start this year.

Two-and-a-half years after problems with the car park forced the temporary closure of the Bournemouth shopping centre, construction workers have started testing possible options for the proposed rebuild.

An area of the lower-deck car park near B&Q has been sectioned off and distinctive white beams now support the roof.

But David Paine, of centre owner, Standard Life Investments, stressed that the development was still very much a process of trial and error and the longed-for solution remained frustratingly out of grasp.

He said: "What you see down there is that Kier has been doing some trials but I wouldn't read too much into it.

"This is not the commencement of works. This is them really trying to develop their idea so they can offer things up to us and we can say yes, no or maybe.

"What is there is not what the car park will ultimately look like. I'm afraid we are still some way off having an idea as to what the car park will ultimately look like."

When asked whether work would start this year, he admitted: "It's unlikely. We're not in a position yet to say, Here is the answer.' "I would have liked to have started work last year so, yes, it's frustrating.

"Every day that goes by is frustrating - there is no other way of expressing it."