AN AMBITIOUS project to regenerate a shopping arcade in Bournemouth is unlikely to go ahead under recommendations. 

Boscombe’s Royal Arcade, in Christchurch Road, was expected to be given a full refurbishment along with a new food court and offices. 

Funded by the government’s Towns Funds and Heritage Lottery Funds grant, BCP Council hoped to convert the arcade into a “lively and engaging” space for workers and visitors to socialise. 

However, the scheme may soon be halted after a report by senior officers at BCP Council found there is not enough money to cover the project. 

Bournemouth Echo:

In February 2023, the council accepted £6.79m for the delivery of the project along with approved council borrowing of £3.39m. 

A report by BCP Council’s senior officers said the grants were “insufficient to bridge the gap in funding to deliver the project”.

Their report said: “Like many local authorities, the council is facing unprecedented financial challenges and needs to look carefully at council spend, ensuring that the statutory services that its most vulnerable residents rely on are maintained.  

“The council must make sure it has a secure and sustainable financial future, and that means looking ever more carefully at where it invests.” 

Bournemouth Echo:

A planning application was lodged by the authority last year to redevelop the arcade and that is still expected to go through the process for approval. 

The report said by doing so, it’s hoped it may “help to facilitate the private sector taking the scheme forward”. 

As for the government money which was earmarked for the arcade, BCP Council will have to write to the Department for Levelling Up to seek re-allocation across other Towns Funds projects in Boscombe

“[This] will help to safeguard their delivery in the face of high inflation impacting costs and a challenging economic climate,” the report added. 

Development work at the Grade II listed Victorian building caused a stir among existing shopkeepers and businesses. 

Small business owners hit out at the council, saying they were being “forced out”. 

BCP Council does not own the Royal Arcade and it estimates that buying and renovating the building would cost the authority £11.54m.   

However, it was reported last year that the scheme's costs had soared by more than £7m after it was confirmed that extensive structural and internal building works would be required. 

The report will be put to BCP Council’s cabinet at a meeting held next week where senior councillors will decide the future.