Millionaire’s row devastated at plans for 27ft-high wall to stop posh resort flooding

Campaigners have been accused of being ‘motivated by greed’ in their opposition to the development but angry residents argue the giant wall will be higher than the Great Wall of China

Sandbanks residents are up in arms over plans to build a wall they say will resemble a ‘Stalag’

Rich residents of Sandbanks are furious at the prospect of a huge concrete wall being built to protect the posh peninsula from flooding.

They claim the 27ft high structure would be higher than the Great Wall of China – and those living on Millionaire’s row are livid at the prospect of it being erected.

It would have to be built as part of a controversial £250m development to turn a historic waterfront hotel into a block of luxury flats.

Campaigners claim the exclusive resort in Poole Harbour, Dorset, will resemble a ‘Stalag’ if the new sea wall is put up.

More than 6,500 letters of objection have already been lodged against the plans to demolish the Haven Hotel.

Campaigners are angry at the idea and mocked up a spoof picture of the wall


Sandbanks Community Group/BNPS)

But anger has intensified after a flood modelling report produced on behalf of the developers revealed a 27ft high sea wall defence is required around the perimeter of the Poole Harbour site to stop wave surges.

The objectors say this would be taller than the iconic Chinese landmark that is between 16ft-25ft and almost double the height of the Berlin Wall, making residents feel like they were trapped in a prison camp.

It was previously thought the six-storey block of 119 luxury apartments would require a 12ft sea wall, before the Environment Agency requested further analysis of the ‘flood risk’, prompting a new calculation.

However, the developers insist the larger sea wall will be ‘mechanical’ and only rise up from the ground hydraulically when there is a flooding risk.

The Millionaire’s row residents says the structure would be higher than the Great Wall of China



They have accused the campaigners of ‘scraping the barrel’ in their attempts to thwart the development which is set to be ruled on by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council planning officials in February.

David Morley, chairman of the Sandbanks Community Group, who are fighting the plans, said: “This sea wall will actually be higher than the Great Wall of China and almost double the height of the Berlin Wall.

“It will turn our peninsula into Stalag Sandbanks, as it will make Sandbanks look like a prison camp.

“The developers initially said the wall would measure 3.75m to 4m (13ft) but the Environment Agency requested further analysis and now the figure is 8.25m (27ft).

The wall wold have to be built as part of a £250m development to turn a historic waterfront hotel into a block of luxury flats



“The views are really important not only from here but also looking towards Poole Harbour from Purbeck.

“They will be taken away and that is one of the many things wrong with this development.”

He added: “Sydney Harbour has the iconic Opera House, Poole Harbour gets a block of flats.

“The first sight for millions of visitors would be this out of scale, soulless tower block on the beautiful face of Poole Harbour.”

The Haven Hotel was built in 1880 and is where engineer Guglielmo Marconi established the world’s first wireless communications.

The controversial planning application was first submitted four years ago



If plans are approved, as well as the Haven becoming flats, the Sandbanks Hotel will be redeveloped as a new five star 185-bedroom hotel and the Harbour Heights will become a 38-apartment hotel and spa.

They have been submitted on behalf of the owner of the three hotels, FJB Hotels.

The flood modelling report, produced by consultants Waterco, states: “The outputs from this study indicate that the crest level of the existing flood wall at the Haven Hotel and Sandbanks hotel sites should be raised to minimum levels of 7.75-8.25m.”

Poole is home to the second largest natural harbour in the world behind Sydney and it is also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The planning application was first submitted in 2017 and has been opposed by both the Environment Agency and the RSPB, who have raised concerns over the impact the new buildings will have on bird migration.

In response, developer Richard Carr, on behalf of FJB Hotels, said their plans will rejuvenate the coastline by replacing ‘very old, very dated hotels’ with ‘beautiful buildings’.

He accused the campaigners of being ‘motivated by greed’ in their opposition to the development, saying they wished to protect private access to the beach behind their multi-million pound properties.

The pricy plans would protect the exclusive peninsula from flooding



Mr Carr said: “They are right that there needs to be a mechanical wall in the event of a once in a 200 year flood or storm, but it will be mechanical so it will not be there, it will be hydraulic and come up in the event of a storm.

“They are scraping the barrel and I’m very optimistic (about the plans being approved) as who in their right mind would not want it to happen, other than a few greedy millionaires with holiday homes on the peninsula who visit them once every couple of years.

“They don’t want to lose their private access to the beach and for there to be a public footpath.

“I’m fed up of it. They think they own Sandbanks and it is grossly unfair.

“They shouldn’t be trying to use their wealth to try and stop the general public having access to the public beaches.”

He previously said of the development: “The hotels are very old, very dated. The Haven Hotel is structurally unsound, it probably only has ten years life left in it.

The historic Haven Hotel was built back in 1880



“I think the three buildings we’ve designed are without doubt iconic, give people in the hotels the facilities they expect.

“At the end of the day, we live on the most beautiful coastline in the United Kingdom and it deserves to have beautiful buildings with it.”

Sandbanks, which is made up of about 800 households, has several famous residents including former football manager Graeme Souness and computer magnate Sir Peter Ogden.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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