DORSET councillors are being asked to reject redevelopment plans for one of Dorset’s iconic hotels, the Knoll House Hotel at Studland.

The proposals include a 30-bed hotel, apartments and villa accommodation, together with leisure and dining areas – bringing the site up to 5-star standard.

The redevelopment, which was first proposed in 2018, comes before councillors as an amended scheme on Wednesday, February 9, with an officer recommendation to refuse because of the scale of the proposals and the likely impact on the heathland.

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The site lies within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Beauty and planning officers are arguing that the application would “continue to generate significant adverse effects and would compromise the special qualities that underpin the AONB’s designation.”

Bournemouth Echo:  Knoll House hotel today – Courtesy of Kingfisher Resorts/Conran & Partners

The site became a hotel in 1931, was used by the army as a base during the Second World War while constructing beach defences, and returned to being a hotel at the end of the war.

Around thirty buildings are on the rambling site providing 106 guest bedrooms and 57 for staff – with the hotel only usually opening in the main season. The proposals allow for year-round operation.

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The redevelopment proposals from Kingfisher Resorts include retaining parts of the original hotel which is considered to make a positive contribution to the area, including the retention and refurbishment of the front facade of the core hotel building.

Further guest accommodation is proposed in three new apartment buildings and 25 villas to the rear of the hotel building and the provision of leisure facilities to include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, fitness suite, spa and treatment facilities, function room, casual dining bistro and associated staff areas.

The partial demolition of the main house would allow a 30-bed hotel; 41 apartments, 6 villas and 16 masionettes to provide a range of accommodation types and size to cater for large families down to individuals.

If all the proposals were allowed it would change the total capacity of the site from 330, including 63 staff rooms, to 324, although the proposed development does not provide for staff accommodation.

Objections have come from the National Trust which owns land around the site and leases a small area to the hotel; Natural England; the Dorset AoNB team; Dorset Council design and conservation officer with tourism officers warning that by removing staff accommodation the hotel could struggle to recruit.