STUDENT flats have been proposed to bring back life to a town centre building that has been decaying for three decades. 

South Western House in Glen Fern Road, Bournemouth, could be converted into 137 “high quality” student rooms under major new plans.

Built in the 1960s, the former office block is better described as an abandoned blot behind Cameo nightclub – suffering from severe mould, stalactites and rust inside. 

A report by Huw Rettie, of architects Kendall Kingscott, noted the upper floors of the five-storey building also has “extensive bird droppings” because of the neglect the building has experienced over the years.

Bournemouth Echo: South Western HouseSouth Western House (Image: Daily Echo)

But under fresh plans by Rengen Developments, the firm that had a failed application to convert the building into 28 flats, some big changes could be coming. 

Each of the 137 rooms will come with a bed, en-suite shower room, study area and kitchenette – all ranging between 12.2 sq m to 21.1 sq m. 

Meanwhile, Cameo will be ceasing trading later this year, according to the developers, and in its place will be space for two shops. 

But a spokeswoman for the popular nightclub said whatever happens in the near future, bosses are committed to staying in Bournemouth.

The spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the landlord’s plans and are discussing what this will mean for the future of our venue.

"We are committed to having a continued presence in Bournemouth; Cameo is more than just a club, it is the largest venue of its kind in the area and a major local employer.

"It attracts many people into the town who, in turn, support the broader late-night economy including taxi firms, restaurants and take-aways.

"By killing off the nighttime economy you are also turning off a significant income stream for Bournemouth businesses.”

Outside of South Western House, developers said the decaying, grey, weather battered exterior will have a spruce up including a repaint on the ground floor and above, new windows and the concrete frame will be repaired and repainted. 

“The rest of the façade shall remain as existing although cleaned and repaired where required improving the buildings overall aesthetic and wider street appeal,” Mr Rettie said in a statement. 

He added: “The conversion of South Western House offers the opportunity to maximise the residential potential of an existing town centre buildings providing good quality student accommodation. 

“The redevelopment will contribute 137 student rooms towards the demand for contemporary student housing in a sustainable location, which will subsequently help to reduce the shortfall in such accommodation across Bournemouth. In addition it will help ease the pressure on family housing in the local area. 

“The increase in residents living on this street will increase passive surveillance, footfall and reduce anti social behaviour. The additional residents will also contribute to the town centre economy. 

“The conversion of the nightclub into commercial space will provide an opportunity to re-introduce active frontage to the street, whilst upgrading the physical appearance of the building will greatly improve the street scene and vitality of the area. 

“The proposals will help towards providing a sustainable long-term use for an underused building in the town centre.”