THE future of a Poole Quay marina is up in the air after The Crown Estate has drawn back from appointing a preferred bidder.

Now both bidders, MDL and Poole Harbour Commissioners are seeking meetings with the body that owns the seabed to clarify the position.

The Crown Estate last November conferred ‘prospective preferred bidder’ status on MDL, which came out with plans to rival Poole Harbour Commissioners’ bid.

But it has now announced it is not going to appoint a preferred bidder for the lease of the seabed.

MDL, which owns the Cobbs Quay marina at Hamworthy, caused an outcry when its proposals for a 600 berth marina, which included a car park island and causeway in Poole Harbour, were revealed.

A statement from MDL said they were ‘disappointed and surprised’ by the decision and were now ‘actively considering’ their options.

The statement added: “This consideration will be guided, as were MDL’s original proposals, by a focus on delivering what is best for Poole Harbour, the people of Poole and MDL as a major local business and employer.”

Neil Jacobson, The Crown Estate’s portfolio manager for the South of England, said: “We believe, along with many people in Poole, that a new marina development could be of benefit to the local area and, should appropriate proposals emerge in the future, we would be keen to explore opening a fresh leasing process in order to facilitate future development.”

An initial evaluation last year left MDL leading the field as the highest-scoring bidder and the company was asked to provide further information.

However, now The Crown Estate has said that in line with its statutory obligations to take decisions that are in the best commercial interests of the business, it is not bound to accept the best, or any, bid.

Jim Stewart, chief executive of PHC, said: “We will be requesting a meeting with The Crown Estate to discuss their decision and their thoughts.”

Terry Stewart, of the Vision for Poole group welcomed the decision as ‘fantastic news’.

  • Cllr Elaine Atkinson, council leader, said: “Crown Estates have informed us of their decision not to appoint a preferred bidder for a proposed marina at Poole Quay. It is our understanding that no scheme is being pursued at this moment in time.

“We will however work with any developer who wishes to submit an alternative scheme to Crown Estates that is in the best interests of the people of Poole.”