NESTING lizards have forced the redesign of a multi-million-pound new version of Hove's Rockwater venue.

The entrepreneur behind proposals to turn restaurants and kiosks at Sandbanks and Branksome Chine in Poole into a 'Rockwater Village' complexes has said his vision is currently “held up in a world of pain” amid delays with the planning process.

Luke Davis, who runs the Rockwater operation in Hove, says the more than £9m venture is “good to go” but admits he has “no clue” when Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council’s planning committee intend to officially hear the plans after several delays.

One of the more costly delays was a major redesign of the Sandbanks proposal, which was set to replace the longstanding Sandbanks café on the beachfront, after the discovery of nesting sand lizards in nearby dunes.

Bournemouth Echo: Top image shows originally proposed elevations of Rockwater Village in Sandbanks, bottom image shows recent redesignTop image shows originally proposed elevations of Rockwater Village in Sandbanks, bottom image shows recent redesign (Image: Rockwater)

Mr Davis told the Bournemouth Echo: “We’re really keen to get on with it now as we’re good to go and were meant to be building the main sites by now.

“Our initial plans for Sandbanks were to be rejected based on lizards after an environmental report, which came to our attention six months after we put the application in which was frustrating.

“New plans avoid the lizard issue but, again, it massively slowed the project up.”

Other parts of the design were amended by planners in direct response to concerns raised by residents and the Sandbanks Community Group who submitted objections - citing overdevelopment and character concerns.

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

“If there’s anything the community felt wasn’t right, we’ve amended it,” Mr Davis added.

The Hove venue, previously The View, opened at the end of 2020.

A Rockwater shack selling food and drink is already operational at the Branksome site, replacing the former Branksome Chine Beach Shop.

However, Mr Davis has admitted the longer the planning process goes on, the less viable the shack will become without the larger adjacent site - currently the Branksome Beach Restaurant - and says the delays with the council are becoming costly.

Despite this, Mr Davis feels public opinion on the Rockwater projects is shifting following the opening of the Branksome shack.

“I think members of the community who were sceptical are starting to realise what we’re offering isn’t what they perceived it to be,” he said.

“I hope they’re seeing these aren’t some horrible Benidorm party venues, they’re places for the whole community.

Bournemouth Echo: Rockwater's Shacks by the Shore at Branksome ChineRockwater's Shacks by the Shore at Branksome Chine (Image: Newsquest)

“We’re hoping for a date from the planning committee very soon as we could end up with two beaches with no seafront offerings.”

A BCP Council spokesperson said: “Our coastal region is an extremely popular tourist destination and our vibrant array of seafront businesses play an important role in the success of our local economy, that’s why we are always keen to support new investment along our seafront.

“Earlier in the year, Rockwater Bournemouth Ltd, operators of Branksome Beach restaurant, applied for planning permission for a number of projects along Poole beaches including extensions to Branksome Chine and Sandbanks Cafés, decking at Branksome Chine Beach and upgrading signage at Branksome Chine kiosk.

“We are in the process of considering the applications, some of which will then need to be presented to our planning committee for a decision. We aim to complete this process before the end of the year and will keep Rockwater updated on our progress.”