The regeneration of Bournemouth town centre has passed a significant milestone as an official turf cutting heralded the formal start of building work on a five-storey apartment block overlooking Horseshoe Common.
The £12 million development, on the former council-owned surface car park at Leyton Mount, will house 64 flats and a 290 sq m (3,120 sq ft) commercial unit suitable for a café or restaurant.
Businesses, council leaders and project partners all welcomed the plan during its public consultation stages as a way of improving safety in and around the Common and rejuvenating nearby Old Christchurch Road.
The project is being led by the Bournemouth Development Company (BDC), Bournemouth Council’s delivery partner for its 20-year Town Centre Master Vision.
BDC, a public-private partnership between the Council and Morgan Sindall Investments, secured planning permission in 2012.
Duncan Johnston, BDC development director, said: “The redevelopment of the Leyton Mount car park will be a catalyst for improvement at Horseshoe Common and the streets, paths and open spaces that lead to and from it.”
The start of work has been welcomed by councillor John Beesley, leader of Bournemouth Council. He said: “Leyton Mount is a central part of our co-ordinated approach to improving the town centre. The development will help increase the vitality of the area, make it a more pleasant place for people to visit, and stimulate economic activity and employment.”
Funding for the scheme includes a £5m investment from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA)’s Get Britain Building programme.
Elizabeth Wright, HCA area manager, said: “This is an important project for Bournemouth and the wider economy because of its focus on creating a better, more successful town centre.
“The new jobs and investment it will create will help give a boost to the local economy which our funding will support. It is great news that work is starting and that we can look forward to seeing the vision for this project being turned into reality.”
Building work will be carried out by teams from the Poole office of Morgan Sindall Construction, with sub-contractors sourced from the local supply chain as far as possible.
Other companies involved in the scheme include the Bournemouth planning consultancy Terence O’Rourke and the Ferndown office of building services engineers, Hoare Lea.
Mandy Payne, president of Bournemouth Chamber of Trade & Commerce, said: “This is the start of a co-ordinated series of improvements to breathe new life into the town centre in the midst of still-challenging economic conditions. Making better use of car park sites will help to generate vibrancy and economic prosperity by increasing the number of people living and working here.”
The start of work at Leyton Mount comes just weeks after site clearance and construction began on two other BDC projects, both at neighbouring Madeira Road.
Also a former council-owned car park, part of the Madeira Road site will be redeveloped into three blocks of accommodation for 378 students at the Arts University Bournemouth.
Alongside will be a 382-space multi-storey car park, specifically designed to ensure the permanent provision of public parking in the area.
The combined development value of the Leyton Mount and Madeira Road projects is £40m.