Winter Gardens Could Become Leisure Complex

The Winter Gardens site and adjoining Priory Road car park could be transformed into a leisure, hotel and residential complex under new proposals revealed today.

Bournemouth Borough Council is considering selling the site after being approached by a private pension fund, AP Bond Children’s Settlement, which is promoting a 66,000m2 complex, including cinemas, shops, parking and landscaped areas. The move would bring an estimated £60million of inward investment to the town centre. 

Roger Ball, Director for Technical Services, said,

“Officers are recommending that the Council accepts this conditional offer.  The developer will then have until 1st March 2012 to obtain a planning consent and enter into a lease, which could see development start in the summer of that year.  If this happens, it will be a real achievement for our Town Centre Vision.  It is encouraging that the Vision is already attracting inward investment of this scale.

"The pension fund owns the freehold of the building that houses the La Strada Italian Restaurant, and the Klute/Funki Sushi restaurant and bar complex.  It is well advanced in arrangements to secure the other interests that it needs for this scheme. However, the Council is committed to supporting the private sector in delivering the Town Centre Vision, and as such is prepared to support this process with the use of a Compulsory Purchase Order if necessary.

“Whilst the details of the leisure content within this scheme will become clearer as this development progresses, it is hoped that this will incorporate a new, multi-screen cinema.  The developer and proposed cinema operator are aware of proposalsfor another cinema scheme in the town and they are confident that Bournemouth can accommodate two cinemas, with up to twentyscreens between them.  This is a strong indication of the leisure sector’s confidence in the Town.”

Mark Smith, Director of Tourism, added,

“The proposal to include two hotels gives a strong indication that the town’s tourism industry has a real and growing contribution to make to our economy in the future.  We need to remember that this is on top of the three new hotels recently awarded planning permission:  two on the Terrace Mount site nearby and one adjacent to the Richmond Gardens Multi-Storey Car Park. We have been aware for some time that there are a number of major hotel operators that believe Bournemouth has the potential to attract more visitors to stay in the resort and provide valuable jobs and local income.”

The Council says details of the deal are commercially sensitive and as such remain confidential at this time.  But in a statement it said:

"The Council is ensuring this transaction represents best consideration for the Council and the people of Bournemouth and contains a real incentive for the developer to deliver."