CONTROVERSIAL plans for a casino near Bournemouth’s Pavilion are set to be scrapped – and the town’s cinemas moved there instead.

Developer Trevor Osborne intends to pull the plug on the casino and build an underground, 2,000-seater, nine-screen cinema complex, which he says the Odeon has already agreed to move into.

The £35 million scheme would also include 14 restaurants above ground.

If the scheme is agreed by Bournemouth councillors, Mr Osborne says building work will start next year.

The plans would also mean the Odeon – which also runs the town’s ABC cinema – moving out of Westover Road and leaving a large area for re-development.

Mr Osborne said: “Times have changed radically since we first announced our aspirations for the site.

“In those years spending behaviour has changed dramatically and casinos have been among those hit by the recession.”

He said he was responding to local views but the scheme would have “all the variety and vibrancy” of the original plans.

“It’s also a marvellous opportunity for the council to revitalise Westover Road. It used to be Bournemouth’s Bond Street and that could be possible again,” he said.

He added that revised designs were “quite well advanced” and pledged: “This won’t be a bland box with no windows – it will be a landmark building representing quality architecture. I am determined to show that leisure uses such as a cinema can be accommodated in a sensitive urban location without adverse environmental impact.”

The revised scheme will go before cabinet members on Wednesday, October 13.

Cllr Bob Chapman, former cabinet member for major projects, said: “I know the Odeon have been anxious to get a new cinema complex for a long time and I would certainly prefer that location to the former bus station (in Exeter Road). Subject to seeing the full details I wouldn’t have any objection.”

But some traders said they feared it might result in more empty space along Westover Road.

Ally Tanswell, manager of Westover Gallery, said: “It depends on what’s going to happen to the old cinema.

“There’re so many empty shops along here, we don’t want another one. And people know Westover Road because that’s where the cinemas are.”

Toni De Angelis, owner of ladies’ shoes and accessories shop Mia, said: “We would prefer them to refurbish and stay where they are because they are part of the Westover Road scene and bring a lot of people in.”

John Keppie, manager of Sweet Thoughts Bournemouth, said: “It’s good but bad at the same time. What’s going to fill the empty space? It could end up like the ice rink – just another empty building.”

Cllr Ian Lancashire, current cabinet member for major projects, said the new plan was “a radical change” and a new planning application would be needed. “I think the idea of a cinema being placed there instead of a casino would be far more acceptable to the public of Bournemouth but as far as I’m aware it’s still fairly early stages regarding negotiations.”

No-one from the Odeon chain was available to comment.