Procurement for a controversial hotel development that provoked the threat of a legal challenge by two hotel companies has been reopened.
Bournemouth Borough Council made the announcement in a formal response to a pre-action legal letter from Peel Hotels and Bespoke Hotels.
The council described the threat of judicial review as "nothing more than a scare tactic constructed as an attack on the decision-making process… aimed solely at disrupting the project", and the companies' arguments as "vague and unsubstantiated".
It said it was satisfied that the decisions made so far would be found by a court to be lawful.
"However, the argument made that the 'rollback' part of the procurement stopped other interested parties from bidding on the project has led to Cabinet agreeing to reopen the procurement process, so enabling other bidders to come forward," he added.
The Caterer reported last month that the two hotel companies, which operate hotels in the town, had joined forces to express their concerns over the plans, which would see the £70m development of a 322-bedroom hotel, spa and health club next to the Bournemouth International Centre (BIC).
The council is proposing to back the scheme with public money after plans for a privately funded venture failed to get off the ground, however the firms said they did not consider the scheme to be financially viable. A preferred bidder - an entity formed by Mill Lane Estates and Marick Real Estates - had been chosen, however Peel and Bespoke also raised concerns about that bidder.
Councillor Broadhead added: "I must stress, the recommendation to Cabinet is in no way a reflection on the quality of the bid being advanced and in fact just this past week, significant progress has been made on reaching a position that would have satisfied the council's previously agreed requirements."
The final decision to appoint a preferred bidder and enter into the relevant contracts will be taken by the council once the new procurement process has concluded.
The council added it was confident that the funding model is "robust", and that industry-backed projections demonstrate the investment will achieve financial return over its course, therefore "taxpayers' money is not unreasonably being placed at risk".