BCP Council is projected to have spent £300k on a shopping arcade before plans to scrap its redevelopment came forward. 

Boscombe’s Royal Arcade, in Christchurch Road, is now unlikely to be redeveloped into a food hall and office space by BCP Council anymore. 

Despite the authority not owning the historic building yet, the project was still in its early days and existing businesses remained in their units. 

But an FOI has revealed as of September 2023, the authority has spent £209,694.50 of the government’s levelling up money on the project. 

Bournemouth Echo:

The FOI said it is “currently anticipated that this figure will rise to around £300,000, once the final reconciliation for the project is completed and the final return is submitted to [the government]”. 

Cllr Mike Cox, cabinet member for finance, said there have been upfront costs associated with redeveloping the Royal Arcade such as surveys, planning, valuations and legal fees 

He said: “Just like any asset purchase or development, there are upfront costs required to carry out surveys, feasibility work and due diligence.” 

BCP Council is now hoping the work it has so far done “will now encourage investment from the private sector which will help preserve the Grade II listed building in the long term”. 

Read more: Royal Arcade redevelopment now unlikely to go ahead

Funded by the Department of Levelling Up and National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Towns Fund, the project was one of several in Boscombe which would contribute to a regeneration of the town. 

Cllr Cox added: “We all acknowledge that restoring a heritage building like the Royal Arcade comes with a cost, and whilst we remain committed to preserving this much-loved asset, we must be pragmatic in our approach. 

“The funding of this project relied on investment from the council, however the economic environment has since changed, meaning the original plan carries more risk. 

If full approval is given to ditch the scheme, the remaining grant money which would have gone into the Royal Arcade will be reallocated to other projects within the Towns Fund programme. 

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

BCP Council estimates that buying and renovating the building would cost £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. 

Cllr Cox added: “BCP Council remains fully committed to the regeneration of Boscombe, and whilst it is no longer financially viable for the council to invest in the building, we are committed to progressing the planning application and working with stakeholders to ensure the local community’s aspirations for the Royal Arcade can be realised.”