Make it Instagrammable and move the buses.
Those are the suggestions made by traders along Westover Road on how to return Bournemouth’s own ‘Bond Street’ to its former glory.
A three-day technical workshop – or charette as organiser’s called it – run by Future Places Ltd, BCP’s urban regeneration company, asked those taking part to share solutions for dealing with the focus area’s challenges and regenerating footfall.
The charette discussed urban design, heritage, culture, economic development, and transport in the focus area – Westover Road and its surrounding streets – identified for rejuvenation.
Read more: Workshop to discuss future of Westover Road in Bournemouth
Kevin McNicol, the owner of independent clothing store Richmond Classics, took part in the workshop.
He recommended that the nearby landscape could be used to promote the area on social media: “The solution we put forward to rejuvenate the area, initially obviously to encourage retailers to come back here, is take or prune down the trees on the opposite side of the road, so you can see a view of the sea, you can see a view of Old Harry Rocks, so its used as an Instagram location so that people can take pictures, go back to where they’ve come from and tell people where they’ve been.”
Westover Road is used as the main route for buses into the square, and Mr McNicol informed the workshop that this was a major obstacle to future success.
“The majority of people who come on the buses want to go to the beach, to the BH2, they want to go to the cinema, and they want to go to Commercial Road.
Read more: ‘How can we unlock its potential?’: Westover Road plans
“So the buses, if they were directed down by the sea and stopped down there, it would make far more sense than stopping at Westover Road where few people want to get off.”
Daniel Hancock, Moss Bros’ store manager, says previous plans to pedestrianize and extend out Westover Rd’s footpath for alfresco dining had been met with negative reactions by other retailers because of the potential loss of parking, but he agrees that moving the buses elsewhere could solve this dilemma.
“If you send the buses over the flyover and around that makes sense because all the bus stops on the other side of the road you can turn over to parking, then you can extend the footpath out and have outdoor seating. You can see the sea from us, it would regenerate [the road], massively, and it would be fabulous.”
Read more: What is the future for Westover Road in Bournemouth?
Remembered fondly as Bournemouth’s ‘jewel in the crown’, the street, overlooking the town’s gardens, was once home to an ice rink and cinemas.
But Westover Road’s retail fortunes have taken a downturn in recent years, with retailers vacating rental units and leaving empty frontage.
Growing homelessness and drug misuse along the street were also cited as social issues harming Westover Road’s reputation.
The proprietor of family jewellers Franses, Jeff Franses said that he was glad BCP council was being receptive to ideas on how to breathe life back into the street.
“We’re very happy that it’s happening and very much looking forward to it.”