Traders 'optimistic' as early tranches of major £23m grant for Boscombe received

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Boscombe town centre

CHANGES are afoot in Boscombe as early tranches of the major £23million government cash injection have been received.

Traders and landowners along Boscombe High Street will now be able to apply for a grant to renovate and refurbish their shopfronts as part of the Towns Fund deal.

Towns Fund is a grant from central government to turbocharge plans for Boscombe centred on attracting inward investment, delivering economic regeneration, building new homes and facilities and enhancing Boscombe’s Victorian heritage.

Deputy council leader Phil Broadhead previously described the cash injection as “game changing” for Boscombe.

Parts of the £23million grant have been received by BCP Council, with the outward renovation of shopfronts among the first tangible changes to be made.

Peter Ruscoe, chair of the recently formed Boscombe Traders Group, said: “We are prioritising our heritage buildings [for the grants].

Bournemouth Echo: Peter Ruscoe.

Peter Ruscoe. (Image: BCP Council)

“An additional small grants fund will also be open to all traders for small scale improvements or projects which could include purchasing tables and chairs, plants or repainting their frontage.

“The town centre now has fast free wi-fi, thanks to further developments by the Smart Place programme.”

Footfall has also increased since the pandemic, with Mr Ruscoe stating that footfall in the Boscombe precinct “retained more of its customers since before Covid than the regional and national picture”.

This data is now being monitored monthly by the BCP economic development department.

A four-week consultation on the Boscombe Towns Fund vision took place in the summer, much of which is subject to separate planning applications.

Bournemouth Echo: 1) New homes, 2) Hawkwood Gardens, 3) Mixed use buildings, 4) New crossing, 5) Community centre, 6) New walkway, 7) New retail pop-up kiosks. Picture: BCP Council

1) New homes, 2) Hawkwood Gardens, 3) Mixed use buildings, 4) New crossing, 5) Community centre, 6) New walkway, 7) New retail pop-up kiosks. Picture: BCP Council

Plans include:

  • Brand-new park with a play area and gardens

  • A new community centre and a medical centre

  • Around 90 new homes, including family and affordable homes

  • Travel improvements

Harry Seccombe, owner of Chaplin’s Bar and Boscombe Forum chair, told the Echo local traders were optimistic.

He said: “We’ve got a few new businesses which have been busy and it’s good to see some new faces.

“Traders do seem optimistic and there are early signs of good things happening. At a time when businesses are struggling, it seems to be less of an issue in Boscombe at the moment.

“I’m looking forward to what happens next as the big raft of money still has to come through, and it will make a significant improvement to Boscombe.

“It’s very ambitious and will take a few years, but I think it’s going to attract people and put us on the map.”