Bournemouth town centre developer on state of high street

THE owner of two large prime retail sites in Bournemouth is confident the town centre will be in a much stronger place next year.

Ashley Nicholson, director of Verve Properties, said things are “generally at a low point” currently but “good operators” were looking to come to the area.

Verve owns the Bobby’s department store in the Square and The Avenue shopping centre in Commercial Road.

As reported, BCP Council leaders are set to unveil a vision for a new retail quarter in the Avenue Road area this autumn.

This “vision” would include the former M&S building Verve’s shopping centre, with hopes for a “mews style” independent district, somewhat like The Lanes in Brighton.

Assessing the state of play in Bournemouth town centre, Mr Nicholson told the Daily Echo: “Generally things are at a low point currently but there are good operators wanting to come in and by this time next year I believe things will look a lot better in the town centre.”

Work is going on behind the scenes on the brief for the Avenue Road area, which has been described as a “once in a generation opportunity to create something special” by BCP Council deputy leader Philip Broadhead.

Elsewhere, the local authority’s urban regeneration company, BCP Future Places, is progressing a project on the future of Westover Road.

Mr Nicholson said the different parts of the core town centre all had something unique to offer.

On the retail quarter vision, he said he would have to wait for the details to be published before commenting on the fully.

“My view is Commercial Road needs to retain the big box, big brand retail as I believe Commercial Road is strengthening as the prime retail spot with Old Christchurch Road below Beales Square moving more to food and beverage and independent retailing,” said Mr Nicholson.

“The Square is likely to build on the recent Ivy letting and Bobby’s refurbishment into quality food and beverage, speciality retail and culture.

“The Triangle with its quirkier buildings and craft operators in the Bad Hand complex offers a template for what could be, probably akin to Brighton Lanes as the deputy leader says.

“Westover Road is a really interesting area that could develop into Bournemouth’s creative quarter.

“There are some wonderful, underutilised spaces that would be ideal for post-graduation incubation, creative businesses and cultural uses sitting alongside speciality retail and permanent and temporary exhibition spaces.”

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