The plan is for Hove’s Rockwater to open venues in dead-end Sandbanks and Branksome

The plan is for Hove’s Rockwater to open venues in dead-end Sandbanks and Branksome
The plan is for Hove’s Rockwater to open venues in dead-end Sandbanks and Branksome

The NESTING lizards have forced a redesign of a new multi-million pound version of Hove’s Rockwater venue.

The contractor behind proposals to turn restaurants and kiosks at Sandbanks and Branksome Chine in Poole into a ‘Rockwater Village’ complex says his vision is currently being ‘held in a world of pain’ due delays in the planning process.

Luke Davis, who runs the Rockwater operation in Hove, says the £9m+ business is “good to go” but admits he has “no idea” when Bournemouth’s planning committee , Christchurch and Poole Council intends to formally hear the plans after several delays .

One of the costliest delays was a major overhaul of the Sandbanks proposal, which was to replace the long-running Sandbanks cafe on the seafront, after nesting sand lizards were discovered in the nearby dunes.

Top image shows originally proposed elevations from Rockwater Village to Sandbanks, bottom image shows recent redesign (Picture: Rockwater)

Mr Davis told the Bournemouth Echo: ‘We’re really looking forward to getting started now because we’re ready to go and we were supposed to build the main venues now.

“Our original plans for Sandbanks were to be rejected based on the lizards after an environmental report, which came to our attention six months after we filed the application, which was frustrating.

“The new plans avoid the lizard problem but, again, this has slowed the project considerably.”

Other parts of the design were changed by planners in direct response to concerns raised by residents and the Sandbanks community group who submitted objections – citing overdevelopment and character issues.

Luke Davis, Founder of Rockwater

“If there’s anything the community thought was incorrect, we changed it,” Davis added.

The Hove venue, formerly The View, opened in late 2020.

A Rockwater hut selling food and drink is already operational on the Branksome site, replacing the former Branksome Chine Beach Shop.

However, Mr Davis admitted that the longer the planning process drags on, the less viable the hut will become without the larger adjacent site – currently the Branksome Beach Restaurant – and says delays with council become costly.

Despite this, Mr. Davis believes that public opinion on the Rockwater projects is changing after the opening of the Branksome cabin.

“I think community members who were skeptical are starting to realize that what we offer is not what they perceived,” he said.

“I hope they see that these are not horrible party places in Benidorm, these are places for the whole community.

Rockwater huts near the shore in Branksome China (Picture: NewsQuest)

“We are hoping for a date from the planning committee very soon as we may end up with two beaches with no beach front offer.”

A BCP Council spokesperson said: ‘Our coastal region is a hugely popular tourist destination and our vibrant array of seaside businesses play an important role in the success of our local economy, which is why we are always eager to support new investments along our waterfront.

“Earlier this year, Rockwater Bournemouth Ltd, operator of the Branksome Beach restaurant, applied for planning permission for a number of projects along Poole’s beaches, including extensions to Branksome Chine and Sandbanks cafes, terraces at Branksome Chine Beach and signage upgrade at the Branksome Chine Kiosk.

“We are in the process of reviewing applications, some of which will then need to be presented to our planning committee for decision. We aim to complete this process before the end of the year and will keep Rockwater informed of our progress.

. plan is Hoves Rockwater opens of the sites Sandbanks Branksome in limpasse

. plan Hoves Rockwater open venues deadend Sandbanks Branksome

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