THOUSANDS of letters of objections have been lodged against a scheme which could see the Haven Hotel bulldozed.

BCP Council will decide on the plans to demolish the hotel and replace it with a six-storey block of 119 luxury apartments.

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

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

But why are the plans so controversial?


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The 141-year-old building is where engineer Guglielmo Marconi established the world's first wireless communications.

It was rebuilt in 1926 and hailed as a seaside architectural triumph.

The Haven Hotel housed Belgian refugees during the First World War and became a military contact point during the Second World War.

It was purchased by FJB Hotels in 1976 and has since hosted a range of notable guests.

These include poet Robert Browning, John Major and the Real Madrid football team, featuring the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema when Los Blancos played AFC Bournemouth in a friendly in 2014.


In 2017, businessman Richard Carr revealed his vision to refurbish The Haven and The Sandbanks Hotel.

At the time the plans included the demolition of the Haven Hotel and the construction of a 10-storey apartment block of up to 260 properties on the three-acre site

A 7,000 square foot restaurant called the Jurassic Eye at the top of the building offering 360 views.

A new 190 bed hotel on the site of the Sandbanks Hotel and a new 45-apartment hotel and spa on the current Harbour Heights Hotel location at Canford Cliffs.

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After thousands of objections, Mr Carr drew up revised plans in 2018 for a six-storey building, no taller than the current hotel.

At the time, Mr Carr said: “It is a simple as this, to do nothing is not a choice. If the shareholders of the FJB group were to do nothing then the Harbour Heights, the Sandbanks and the Haven Hotel would end up as two-star venues.

"In particular the Haven Hotel has a structural life that is coming to an end.

"I am hoping the new drawings should appease most of the objectors."

The revised plans were also met by objections, one resident said: “While the three hotels have lacked the necessary investment over many years, they are iconic and a large part of the heritage of the Sandbanks peninsula. We will lose the Haven Hotel facilities to residential use.”

The Protect Sandbanks action group was then formed and lawyers were hired to fight Mr Carr’s plans.

David Morley, the chairman of Protect Sandbanks, now Save Sandbanks, said: "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.”

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Save Sandbanks says the hotel is part of people’s lives, being one of few hotels in the UK on a blue flag beach.

The group states: “Very few buildings on the Sandbanks headland are higher than four storeys and none more than five. There is nothing on Sandbanks remotely close in scale and bulk to 119 apartments. This would significantly harm the character of the surrounding area.”

It also claims the entrance to Poole Harbour deserves something iconic, not “unsympathetic”.

Poole MP, Sir Robert Syms also voiced his objection, penning a letter to then Borough of Poole chief executive Andrew Flockhart.

He said: “I do think one could redevelop the sites but giving the importance in particular of the Haven Hotel site, which is of course the gateway into Poole Harbour, I think the height of the buildings suggested is too high and will be out of keeping with the scale of the other properties nearby."

Save Sandbanks campaigner, Terry Stewart said he was determined to fight the plans.

He said: "This is an iconic site, it is the entrance to Poole Harbour and we really feel it would be terrible to desecrate this site.”


It has been announced that BCP Council will decide on the planning application in the coming months.

The surge of opposition was prompted after Save Sandbanks produced 10,000 leaflets which were distributed locally to highlight the issue.

Mr Morley said: “The application was filed four years ago and things have been grinding away since then.

"It has been through changes but essentially the proposal remains the same - to knock down the Haven Hotel and replace it with a block of flats.

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"We had 10,000 leaflets delivered by the Post Office to households and since then 1,776 objections have been filed.

"There were already 3,000 letters of objection before that so I think this shows the strength of community feeling.

"Something really significant will be lost from Sandbanks if this goes through."

Objections have also been lodged by the RSPB over the impact the new buildings will have on bird migration and the Environment Agency due to an inadequate flood risk assessment for the hotel site.

Providing a fresh update, Mr Morley said: "You will find objections from people all over the world and all over the country, that is one of the unique things.

"To turn it into a soulless block of flats and cut it off from the public is not the right thing, it is one of the best sites in the country.

“We all accept that the current building needs to be addressed. What I would say, it has been in the same ownership for 40 years, there’s only one person responsible for it.

“We have never argued that that exact hotel has to be maintained, all we have argued is that it needs to be a hotel.

“If they were to come up with a modern design for a new hotel, nobody would be more delighted than us.

“You are going to adversely damage the visual impact of that site.

“It is the entrance of Poole Harbour, one of the prettiest sites in the country, you are going to build an unimaginative block of flats bigger than anything else on Sandbanks, that will be empty for half the year, I cannot see how that can possibly be in the interest of the area.”