THE ENTREPRENEUR behind proposals to transform two seafront locations into leisure complexes has spoken out to dispel rumours and ease concerns.

Luke Davis intends to turn existing cafe restaurants and kiosks at Sandbanks and Branksome Chine into a Rockwater Village, modelled on the successful operation he currently runs in Hove.

The venture, if approved by the council at committee this summer, would see two new complexes built to “respectfully revitalise” offerings at the seafront.

However, soon after submitting the plans they received dozens of objections from residents who feared such developments would negatively impact public order, noise, and the visual character of the areas.

Bournemouth Echo: CGI of the planned Rockwater Village in Branksome ChineCGI of the planned Rockwater Village in Branksome Chine

Husband and father Luke told the Echo he was disappointed to hear such concerns and outlined points he hoped would appease residents.

He said: “I think the best place to start is with the concept, because there’s lots of people who think it will be a nightclub with DJs and loud music – first and foremost this a community offering. The reasoning behind that, from a business perspective, was to flatten out the seasonality.

“We want to create a year-round community hub in both locations which connect to each other and provide something for everyone.

“As well as food and drink, we want these spaces – especially Branksome – to house community activities like film screenings, drop-in centres for health awareness, meet and greets with authors, yoga, and much more.”

Bournemouth Echo: Luke Davis, founder of RockwaterLuke Davis, founder of Rockwater

When asked whether the existing site at Hove encountered similar community backlash prior its opening, Luke said the experience has been “almost identical”.

“People in Hove were worried thinking it was going to be a nightclub with people getting drunk and causing nuisance – none of that has happened,” he said.

“When people started to see what it was all about that they started realising that it really is a community hub which is now hugely popular. So, you might go there in the morning for a business meeting, then go for lunch with your partner and then out in the evening at a family-friendly restaurant – there’s something for everyone.”

Despite neither application having yet received approval, Rockwater signage and some interior work has been implemented at the former Branksome Chine Beach Shop – which Luke says has broken no planning rules.

Bournemouth Echo: Outside deck seating at Rockwater Village in HoveOutside deck seating at Rockwater Village in Hove

Timber decking was also laid before being removed after a “communications error”.

Luke is also working with BCP Council and other groups to ensure issues around the development’s impact on parking and infrastructure are solved.

The Rockwater CEO stressed the new proposed sites would complete the Rockwater Village vision, with no more planned. He added: “I think another misconception is that this is another venture capital deal. This is a family run business which I started in my name for a concept I came up with.

“These three sites will work within their own eco-system.

“I’m confident that we’ll find a way through as it’s about compromise and listening to people. Fundamentally, this concept doesn’t work without the majority of the community behind you and we hope to get them on side.”