Benidorm of Bust – The Sandbanks Peninsula

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The development of the Sandbanks area of Poole has progressed significantly over the past decade with a weird and wonderful array of buildings, mostly residential, being submitted for planning approval. The development of the Haven Hotel and the inclusion of a multi-storey residential tower is, however, a development which should never have been considered in the owner’s consciousness let alone presented for planning approval.

The development of Sandbanks is of strategic public interest for Poole, it forms the introduction to Poole, it frames the harbour and represents the good, the great and the post card image of the Town. As we all know, there is a great deal of recent history tied up with the small spit of land; such as the first ever lifeboat station, one of the flying boat bases and the first Marconi broadcast. The area also provides a great deal of profile for the town, not least how expensive and beautiful it is. Whether people love or hate the area, it remains iconic for the town, it is the picture poster we associate with and sets the tone for the resort element of Poole itself.

As a town it is considered that we need to frame what we would like to happen and what we absolutely do not want to happen to the peninsula. It is suggested that we would like the area to benefit from year round popularity with activities, especially water sports, being promoted so that greater numbers of people can enjoy the beaches and environment which has been at the heart of what Poole is about for so many decades. Indeed, the redevelopment of the Sandbanks and Harbour Heights Hotels will potentially be a great project – but the Town cannot possibly be held to ransom for it to be done; see the notion (not guaranteed in any way) of having everything or nothing – Benidorm or bust – as presented within the planning application.

If the development of a high rise Haven apartment block is approved, the single high rise building will then undoubtedly develop into a crescent of high rise developments at the ferry and will surely spread and engulf the peninsular as a whole.

The combined economics of developing the Haven, Sandbanks and Harbour Heights hotels should not influence the squandering of the beauty of Sandbanks as a whole. Indeed if a drink is taken at the Sandbanks hotel on an evening you can understand the potential of the site but also why the present hotel is not working as it should.

We consider that a high rise apartment block on the peninsular is not the way forward. The redevelopment of the Haven Hotel may be required but its use should continue to be as a hotel, a high quality boutique which offers visitors to Poole a different offering to that of the other hotels in the town and one that is positive to the development of the tourist economy.

To “consolidate” hotel beds or “integrate” the hotel site into a residential development is not considered to be the solution for this specific site, however financially compelling it is for the present owner. Indeed as good as the concepts for the redevelopment of the Sandbanks hotel appear to be, the notion of a change of use of the Haven hotel site and its replacement with “another” high rise apartment block, is considered to be not only against the best interests of Poole, but also against the character of the peninsular, local planning precedents and the proposed change of use should especially be kept separate from the notion of any potential leverage surrounding the redevelopment of the other hotel sites.

Society for Poole August 2018

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