Areas of Boscombe could receive a bohemian face-lift if crucial investment is secured.
According to the Boscombe Area Regeneration Group (BARG), the partnership is on the verge of gaining a government classification that would allow them to attract grants and increased funding from nationwide charities, including the National Lottery Fund.
BARG is an eclectic mix of businesses, organisations and local groups set on improving the image of Boscombe.
Chairman of the organisation, Mark Cribb, hopes the money can go towards recognising the area’s artistic “inner bohemian” side and rid itself of the polluted reputation for “sex, drugs and cheap housing.”
Mark, who owns Boscombe-based businesses Urban Beach hotel and Urban Reef restaurant said: “Residents of Boscombe say it is the best-kept secret in the south – from the beautiful seafront to the Victorian vintage market.
“We are not ignoring the deprivation but people in Boscombe should walk with their heads held high. Volunteers for BARG come together to act as a united voice for the people of Boscombe, they realise it’s a great area but that it could be improved.”
BARG is working to rebrand Boscombe and are heavily involved in the recent plans for a £55,000 renovation of the Crescent. The details are still being discussed but there are suggestions to transform the park by adding a coffee house at its centre.
Mark hopes that by doing so it will change the location from “a place for drinkers, to somewhere for the public.” It is also hoped that the Crescent will have a more welcoming face with this addition, along with new plants, lighting and railing.
Another BARG member is Leah Austin, owner of local business, Vintage Per Sempre. She agrees that the area needs to acknowledge its more creative roots: “30 years ago we had a good vibe in art and music, now the project is trying to make the area more appealing again.”
As one of Bournemouth’s youngest shop owners, having opened the vintage boutique at 18 years old, Leah said she has directly benefitted from her involvement in the organisation.
“I have been running a vintage market once every month with BARG, and it has meant more people are aware of us. They take a business card and come into our shops, for that I’m very grateful.
“These positive outcomes produced by BARG will only show off Boscombe in a positive light and bring in more visitors”
To encourage the public to get more involved and bring more customers into the area, BARG arranges several free events throughout the year. Most successfully they held the Boscombe Tea Party earlier this year, which showcased the combined efforts of local businesses in a colourful interactive display.
The partnership say they’re also talking to landlords to convince them to improve housing, to make the area look physically more attractive and restore its reputation.
If BARG’s application to become a Community Interest Company (CICs) is accepted, BARG believe the area of Boscombe will benefit from further donations, helping them to further their mission.