WILL we ever see an Ivy restaurant open in Bournemouth town centre?

This is a question readers have frequently asked since a planning application was lodged to take over the former New Look unit in the Square in March 2022.

The Bournemouth Echo has tried to contact various people at The Ivy Collection multiple times looking for answers.

However, after nearly two years of phone calls and emails, we are yet to receive any response from them.

Meanwhile, the building on the Square remains boarded up and derelict.

Bournemouth Echo:

Rumours have been circulating that the restaurant has pulled out of coming to Bournemouth over concerns about the state of the town centre.

One source has told the Echo that the directors of the Ivy stayed at a hotel in Bournemouth, took one look around the town and decided it "did not align to their brand".

They added: "They were shocked at the goings on outside Tesco and the absence of any police response."

BCP Council leader Vikki Slade said: “We welcome high-quality brands and I hope that our commitment to Bournemouth town centre, through the summit and our work with partners to build on its strengths and help it reach its potential, means that more businesses will see the town centre as a place to invest in.

“This is a private business, working with a private landlord, so this exciting initiative is not in our hands, but we very much look forward to future announcements.”

A spokesperson for the authority added that the planning department had not had any contact with The Ivy and neither did the high street team.

Bournemouth Echo: Sir Conor BurnsSir Conor Burns

Sir Conor Burns, Bournemouth West MP, said he has been trying to contact people at The Ivy - but without success.

He said: "It is frustrating that we can’t find out what is going on. I have attempted to contact the Ivy and had a reply two weeks ago from their PR manager who has now stopped responding.

"An Ivy would have been a boost to the town and if they have decided to pull their investment it should add extra impetus for the need to get a plan to bring new life to our town centre.

"The levels of anti-social behaviour that we see remain utterly unacceptable and add to a sense that people don’t enjoy coming to a town centre that has seen its offer decline.

"I have hope that the work begun in recognition of the need for change at the town centre summit late last year will start to show soon. But I suppose the test will be if new businesses start to want to come and open in and around the centre of town."

Bournemouth Echo: New Look used to occupy the buildingNew Look used to occupy the building (Image: Daily Echo)

Bournemouth Town Centre BID chief operating officer Paul Kinvig said: "It would be helpful to know what the situation is, just so the BID and other organisations can help them settle into the town."

Dorset Police defended its policing in the town centre, saying it has increased patrols through various operations to tackle anti-social behaviour and other crime.

When it was reported the Ivy could come to Bournemouth, it was welcomed as an “injection of positivity” for the town centre, which had seen several big retailers and department stores close.