AN £11.2million development that will allow the RNLI to build its own life-saving boats at Poole is due to go before planners today.
Officers are recommending that Borough of Poole’s planning committee gives approval to the scheme at the Lifeboat Maintenance Depot in West Quay Road.
It includes demolishing existing buildings and constructing two large buildings on the site, massive enough to build the lifesaving charity’s biggest lifeboats, which are 17m in length and weigh 40 tonnes.
There are currently seven lifeboat maintenance buildings, workshops and offices on the site which would be demolished and 115 new jobs would be created.
It is estimated that by bringing its all-weather lifeboat production and maintenance in house it would save the charity £3.7million a year once it was up and running.
Site levels would be raised by approximately 1.4m for flood protection measures and a new quay wall would be built.
However on the existing sea wall and pontoons there is evidence of rare sponge colonies, says the report by planning case office Clare Spiller, which is due to go before councillors.
“The proposed development will require the construction of a new sea wall which will result in the loss of the rare sponge colonies.
“However to encourage re-colonisation, the choice of building material and structural design will be important in encouraging the future re-colonisation and growth of the sponges.”
Concern has also been raised by Natural England about a possible disturbance to nesting birds in Poole Harbour, which includes international and nationally recognised conservation sites.
The aim is to incorporate the boat building and maintenance from five sites, both RNLI facilities and private contractors.
Angus Watson, head of construction and refit at the RNLI, said the project would generate big efficiencies and improve quality as well as protecting skills in the declining boatbuilding industry.
“It has huge potential,” he said. “We are very excited about what we can deliver.”