Hello! And welcome to our new newsletter, brought to you by the community of Sandbanks, for the community of Sandbanks - residents and visitors alike. Whether you enjoy Sandbanks for the day or have it as a more permanent place to stay, many of you will already be familiar with the growing Sandbanks Community Group (SCG), which was born when the Residents Association and Protect Sandbanks Campaign Group fused five years ago (click here to see more). With so much momentum being gained over the last five years, we wanted to tell the whole community all about what’s been done to preserve, protect and enhance this special place. SCG is it at the heart of communicating and collaborating, as well as gathering consensus to ensure we all enjoy the changing face of Sandbanks. In this edition, we'll be focusing on four key topics:
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A decision is finally looming over plans submitted almost five years ago to demolish the iconic Haven Hotel and replace it with blocks of flats. SCG has been campaigning against the plans from the start. And we are not alone. Over 6500 people have lodged objections - a record for the BCP area.
At its root is a battle for the heart and soul of Sandbanks. To retain the site for use as a public amenity, a hotel with facilities open to all - local people and visitors alike? Or to lose the site forever - killing off the hotel in favour of an exclusive estate for the privileged few? There has been a hotel on the Haven site for almost two hundred years. At the mouth of Poole Harbour with views to and from Brownsea Island, Studland and the Purbecks, it’s a special place. A site of national significance. One of the few hotels in the UK on a Blue Flag beach, it’s the best site for a hotel in the whole area. Campaigners accept the existing hotel is tired and may need replacing. What they don’t accept is that the only option is to lose the site for hotel use forever.
Worries have only grown as recent plans revealed the required sea wall defences would be taller than the Great Wall of China. Gaining a local nickname of Stalag Sandbanks, the development has attracted media attention, thanks to SCG campaigning. An expert’s report commissioned by SCG showed the developer’s flood risk analysis - and an ill-thought-out proposal for a hydraulic sea wall - was fundamentally flawed. Yet the owner has ploughed on regardless, unwilling to talk to the community or seek a compromise. With the likelihood that a decision would be made this spring, let’s hope we can count on community support and the good sense of the BCP planning committee to refuse these unpopular plans.
Despite these controversies over pricy properties, what makes Sandbanks special is its character and habitat - the beaches, fresh air, and views that can be enjoyed by all for free. Keep reading to find out what SCG has been doing to make sure Sandbanks is seasonal ready.
With Christmas being a dim and distant memory and balmy temperatures almost within reach, we all know that means one thing for sure; Sandbanks will soon be busy again! And this year, Sandbanks and the local authorities are more ready than ever.
Being home to some of the UK’s best beaches, millions of people visit the BCP area every summer. But blindsided by the sheer influx of visitors in 2020 who arrived after endless months of lockdown, Sandbanks particularly felt the effects. Rocking more than a few boats, a series of seasonal readiness strategies were needed like never before.
So, last year, a multi-agency seasonal readiness strategy began, which looked to tackle capacity challenges head on. Challenges included an infrastructure struggling to withstand peak demand, sporadic illegal encampments, strewn litter, boy racers and anti-social behaviour to name but a few.
By the end of 2021, a three-pronged approach from SCG, BCP and the local police had become well established, building a structure that’s set to last this year and beyond. We spoke to Sophie Williams, from the local Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) and Sophie from the BCP to hear how some of these initiatives mean Sandbanks can look forward to an enjoyable and safe 2022.
We hope that reading about all this will fill you with confidence. We'd love to gather your feedback and thoughts to help with continuous improvement. If you've got anything to tell us, please do fill in the short survey to let us know.
"Reporting all activity on Do It Online allows us to build intelligence, which means even if we can’t respond to every incident, we can be aware it occurred. This helps us map our hot spot areas. Reporting an incident takes only a couple of minutes"
"If it hadn't been for the ten successful deployments of Operations Sandman last year, it's no doubt we would have seen many more reported crimes."
What are some of the local policing challenges in summer?
Anti-social Behaviour (ASB), both teenage and vehicle, has been identified as an area of particular focus.
Operation Sandman is one of our key initiatives, running from Easter to September. At its core, it’s about proactive police presence, and positively engaging with the community, particularly teenagers. The team was deployed ten times over Summer 2021, aiming to get in early before large crowds gathered or under-age drinking and fights started. It’s not about stopping fun; it’s just about keeping people safe.
Have efforts so far been successful?
Yes and we absolutely want to replicate what we did last summer in 2022. Additionally, we’ll be working with schools, which will give us intelligence, for example when parties are occurring. A secondary project (Project Charge) will specifically focus on the late-night racing, which is clearly a risk to safety.
Isn’t this a big time and resource commitment?
Yes, and unplanned unrest may sometimes mean resource needs to be redeployed elsewhere, but working with multiple agencies helps. The community have been great too. Cameras and police presence can’t be everywhere, so the community really are the eyes and ears on the ground and needed more than ever.
So, what’s the best way for the community to help?
Reporting all activity on Do It Online allows us to build intelligence, which means even if we can’t respond to every incident, we can be aware it occurred. This helps us map our hot spot areas. Reporting an incident takes only a couple of minutes and can be accessed via a quick link. Alternatively, you can call and let us know.
What can the community expect to see?
From Easter to September, the late shift will deploy this strategy as a regular operation, wherever resource allows. Our hope is that the deployments report “Nothing of Note”, i.e., our presence and intervention successfully mitigate any possible issues. Click here to see some facts and figures from last year.
Anything else we should know?
Operation Sandman is just one of a series of strategies, the BCP are working hard with us too… but that’s their story to tell! We wouldn’t be where we are without the positive, proactive community and multi discipline engagement, so a big thank you from me!
We can’t promise that the police can always be present at every incident, but rest assured in this digital age, we are always taking note and engaged with what’s going on!
Police Readiness isn’t the only superpower we’ve armed ourselves with this year. Responding to some of the challenges of 2020, BCP spent £2.5m in 2021, specifically on seasonal readiness for its 14.7 miles of coastline. We spoke to Sophie Sajic, who had the unenviable task of managing the team to find out how she led them to success. She also tells us how this has set the foundations for further seasons and hopefully another £1.7m of investment this year.
“The MACC is an ‘Eye in the Sky’……. It means not only can we deploy someone immediately, but we can escalate in the right way.”
“If you spot an issue you can call Seafront Reporting on 01202 123800 or email BCP.
“Watch this space… but we’re expecting a similar delivery of service in Sandbanks as we saw in 2021 ….the commitment is there from us.”
What does it mean to BCP when the sun shines and the visitors flood in?
Everything is in demand more; the roads, the car parks, the beach space, even the litter bins! And most people who decide to visit, decide on the day. So in spite of our extra rubbish provision or park and ride schemes, it’s still not always enough!
So how do you plan for the unplannable?
Checking data all the time; checking the weather, on train and bus arrivals and monitoring traffic on the roads lets us plan to some extent. 74% of visitors arrive by car. Sharing live updates on the “Beach Check” App gives visitors a live view of activity.
How do you monitor all of this?
Technology plays a really big part. It’s controlled through our MACC (Multi Agency Control Centre). Put simply, a futuristic wall of monitored CCTV screens gives live intelligence and data to monitor activity right across BCP roads, car parks, beaches, quays and gardens. Seeing activity live means we can deploy resource in the moment as needed.
What sort of resource can you deploy?
It varies from the highway and cleansing teams, to the police and coastguard. Having radio contact with those on the ground means we can escalate issues in the right way. In BCP, we also have dedicated CSAS (Community Safety Accredited Service) officers, who have limited and targeted police powers and are trained to challenge traffic management and ASB. Working out of the police stations, they are an extension of the police family. Their support allows the police to focus on threat, risk and harm when incidents occur. The police have been brilliant and we’re currently planning exactly what our joint strategy looks like for this year too.
What changes might this year's strategy include?
Our CSAS officers have now branched out to cover car parks (which were previously managed by a private contract), as well as all the other great work they do. Car parks are often full by 9am on peak days, so after that the officers can focus where else they’re needed, whilst still giving a visible uniformed presence. This year, the team will grow to a twenty-four strong all year-round service, when an extra ten officers join the team. Sandbanks will have one dedicated officer, seven days a week.
Arguably being the crown jewels of British coastline (OK, so we might be slightly biased), you’d have thought Sandbanks would have had plenty of fish in the sea restaurant wise. After all, luxurious living and abundant sunshine is best enjoyed with full tummies, right? So, when news broke that a new proposition could increase the number of options on the peninsula, we were excited to hear more. We spoke to Luke Davis, who is behind the proposition, to understand more.
Having scoured international venues as far and wide as New York, seaside loving stockbroker turned entrepreneur, Luke Davis, has chosen to bring his second Rockwater Village to Sandbanks. Filling six existing buildings, all in a slightly different way, Luke plans to build a lifestyle proposition which compliments the community who live here.
- This is the second time Luke has developed a Rockwater village.
- The first Rockwater in Hove began when Luke recognised that a run-down site needed a venue more befitting of the surrounding affluent, creative and health-conscious community.
- The success of Rockwater, serving as a “coffees to cocktails” community hub, is a model that Luke wants to recreate.
- Luke Davis plans to repurpose the Branksome and Sandbanks cafés and four kiosks, creating a six site, year-round 'village'.
- Each site will offer something a little different, bringing choice and variety to our diverse community.
- The planning application Luke has submitted shows the outer footprint of the existing buildings won’t really change, but outside seating capacity will be increased. A zoned approach inside means the two larger sites will be multi purposed, with beach walkers enjoying a coffee, whilst cocktail sippers enjoy the ambience elsewhere.
- Working collaboratively with the community, the vision also gives locals a space to build their own brand.
Taking over two of the kiosks sitting at the end of Sandbanks Pavilion, Luke hopes to continue his work with the local council to be part of the conversation about the future of the Pavilion too, so watch this space!
A bright winter afternoon in early February saw a boat full of around twenty lucky SCG members head across to Brownsea Island. Ordinarily closed out of season (save for the holiday cottages and bunkhouse), the trip to the island was a rare treat few others are lucky enough to experience. Joining an exclusive late afternoon guided tour of the Brownsea nature reserve and bird hides, the sell-out trip guests visited a Brownsea distinctly different to the one of the busier summer months.
The guests had been welcomed to attend a Zoom preview a few days before and eagerly awaited the trip. Leaving from Sandbanks pier (which is currently out of service for trips to Brownsea for the general public), the short skim across the water soon had boat passengers ashore, ready to enjoy watching winter nature in its undisturbed habitat. With sightings of red squirrels, and a huge array of birdlife including herons, avocets, ducks and a variety of winter visitors sighted through the hides, the trip did not disappoint. Sadly, the osprey were not expected back until later in the year, so one to look out for on another trip!
Knowledgeable in history as well as nature, the guides explained how the island stewards apply a gentle hand on the tiller when it comes to carefully managing the eco systems. Managing the invasive plant species such as rhododendron before they take over, the stewards carefully balance protecting the natural habitat with preventing it from becoming wild and unkempt.
Interesting snippets of history punctuated the visit too, with wartime tales being brought to life. Now a pond, a vast crater caused by bombing was left as a wartime legacy. During the war, Brownsea Island played a vital role in protecting the mainland, as strategically lit fires raged overnight. Their aim was to attract overhead bombs to target the island, rather than the nearby important town of Poole.
The three-hour, action pack trip was over all too soon, with guests commenting they would happily have stayed there all evening! But a short sail over the water had the guests back on Sandbanks shores shortly after nightfall.
Organised events like this are an absolute treat for the members of SCG. The sell-out guided event offered a chance not only to witness first-hand the beauty of the island over the winter, but also a chance to benefit from the experience of knowledgeable guides. An eagerly awaited springtime trip back to Brownsea is planned to see the terns. Thanks to all involved arranging the trip and to John Paterson for his account and images of the trip.
Throughout this newsletter, you may have noticed how much SCG care about the habitat around us. We were therefore disappointed to hear recent reports from one of our members about some regular antisocial behaviour happening on their very doorstep, in the form of at least one dog owner allowing their dog to foul the beach and grass. Undoubtedly this behaviour will stem from a minority of people, but is nonetheless giving dog owners a bad name. The location in question, close to a boathouse near RMYC on Panorama Road, is a regular route for many dog walkers as they take the adjacent public footpath down to the shoreline and beach. A recent clean-up operation by the owners filled an entire large shopping bag, so this is clearly far from an isolated incident. With both the frequency of the issues and the area being so popular, the owners are now calling on the community to help draw attention to this issue and, if known to them, persuade the culprit(s) to change their ways. Their hope is the problem can be stopped immediately, before it becomes more widespread. If you have any information, please do contact SCG. The owners are reluctant to take more drastic measures such as fencing off their private beach, but are considering a wider range of measures to stand up to this unacceptable antisocial behaviour.
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We do hope you've enjoyed our newsletter. For those of you who don't get to Sandbanks as often as you'd like, we thought we'd leave you with some recent drone footage to remind you just how much of a special place it really is.
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