Our Towns Fund achievements and plans for the future
In our first blog, Councillor Phil Broadhead, Deputy Leader of BCP Council and Vice-Chair of Towns Fund Board shares with us the progress of the regeneration journey and future plans.
Welcome to our first Towns Fund blog. As a local resident, I believe passionately in the future of Boscombe as I know it has huge potential to grow and thrive. I am extremely proud of the progress Towns Fund have made so far. During the first two years, I worked with the team on the development of projects and business cases for a thriving high street, an exciting entertainment programme, enhanced skills and training, job creation and fast broadband.
All the projects have been influenced by local people, and we couldn’t have done this without you. Whether you took part in our recent consultation, attended events or dropped into our engagement hub to share your thoughts, this has all helped influence the future for Boscombe.
I’m delighted to let you know that we’ve now received the Government green light and can go ahead with seven of our ten projects. Building work on the masterplan and Royal Arcade are not due to start until 2025, however there are a number of smaller scale projects, such as the Shopfront improvement project which will start to be built later in 2023-2024.
You may have spotted our new branding, Better Boscombe at the engagement hub. It has been designed to reflect our vibrant community and will be the face for all our projects.
We’ve enjoyed meeting you at the hub, where we have hosted community events, including drop-in sessions, Health MOTs and digital training sessions. I’m proud that we have this facility which you have told us is important to you.
Our plans for a new neighbourhood in the heart of Boscombe
Earlier last year, we asked for your views on our proposed changes to the Hawkwood Road area of the town and local transport schemes. Thank you so much for your responses which have helped shaped the projects, and we’ll soon have a start date to go ahead.
I know many will agree with me that Boscombe is a unique area with positive energy. We’re working on creating a more vibrant arts and entertainment scene. We recently met with local creatives who were able to collaborate and shared some really innovative ideas. We are now recruiting for an experienced arts coordinator or organisation to work with local artists and launch this exciting programme.
Skills and learning
Learning new skills is such an important opportunity for us all. You may be looking to learn new digital skills or you’re a start-up business looking for advice and support.
We’ll soon be hosting the Boscombe Skills Hub at the engagement hub to offer a wide range of digital learning opportunities right in the heart of the town.
We bought the Kings Park building, where 688 learners enrolled across 71 courses since August, and we’re also working closely with Parks in Mind to offer participants access to additional skills through courses and events in outside open spaces in the area.
We’ve also funded improvements in the Old School House to enhance this creative and community space which offers training, leisure activities and flexible workspaces.
Our journey towards digital access for all
I have been very impressed by the offer of free public Wi-Fi in the precinct area of Boscombe, thanks to our Smart Place programme, and often make use of it when I’m here. You may have seen that work is now in progress to install fibre cabling towards Kings Park, and back down Sea Road to the seafront. This will mean that more of you will have access to the free Wi-Fi and enhanced broadband.
A unique and exciting high street
I’m fascinated by the Victorian buildings and the Art Deco influenced architecture, which gives us a glimpse into the impressive spa town it once was. I’m looking forward to Boscombe high street once again becoming a desirable and enticing destination, offering an exciting retail experience for all.
We’ll be working with an architectural team to design a revitalised high street to produce some guidelines for new shopfronts We’re also offering our high street traders a helping hand to make improvements to their premises and shop fronts with the launch of our new grants scheme.
Our jewel in the crown is the Royal Arcade. The Business case for this project has now been approved by the Strategic Board and we hope to secure the Government funding for this later this year. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to enhance this treasured building, which will offer job opportunities and an exciting mix of retail and skills provision.
Health and fitness by the seafront
We’ll soon begin building a new beach box park at Toft Steps to provide replacement cabins and loos which will provide accommodation for new start-up businesses, which could include space for health and fitness businesses. I’m really looking forward to seeing the wellbeing opportunities this can offer to all of us.
I am looking forward to the continued successes in 2023, and our journey towards a connected, vibrant and revitalised Boscombe. I hope you are all as happy as I am about the progress we are making. Why not sign up to our Towns Fund newsletter? Register your interest in Boscombe, and we can continue to keep you up to date with all our exciting developments.