x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Former football chairman wants to recreate The Palm Jumeirah in England

The ambitious £150 million project will see a new holiday resort emerge from reclaimed land in Poole, and it is the brainchild of property developer and former Bournemouth AFC chairman Eddie Mitchell.

An artist’s impression of the proposed development on the Sandbanks spit in Poole harbour on the English south coast. Properties on the spit achieve some of the highest prices in Britain. ddie Mitchell / Bournemouth News / Rex
An artist’s impression of the proposed development on the Sandbanks spit in Poole harbour on the English south coast. Properties on the spit achieve some of the highest prices in Britain. ddie Mitchell / Bournemouth News / Rex

DUBAI // A British businessman who wants to recreate The Palm Jumeirah in his hometown is appealing for funding from the Middle East to make his vision a reality.

The ambitious £150 million (Dh920m) project will result in a new holiday resort emerging from reclaimed land in Poole, on the south coast of England, and it is the brainchild of property developer Eddie Mitchell.

“Dubai has been a big inspiration for me and to see how much it has transformed in recent years is amazing,” said Mr Mitchell, who is the former chairman of Bournemouth football club.

“The area [where the project is to take place] is known for its beautiful, sunny weather and I think this development would be a major boost to the local economy as well as being a sound business for potential investors.”

The proposed resort would include a hotel, as well as a residential, leisure and harbour complex built at the Sandbanks peninsula, turning the area into a mini version of The Palm, Jumeirah.

“I live in the Sandbanks area with my family and it has the highest property prices, but about 10 acres of land is used just as a car park so the potential is there for more development,” he said.

“Although it will be on a much smaller scale than The Palm in Dubai, it will have hugely beneficial effects in attracting more visitors to the area and for the town as a whole.”

The proposals feature a 33-storey sports tower, which can be used for recreational activities including bungee jumping, abseiling and rock climbing, an open-air swimming pool and a theatre for community artists.

There will be a seven-star hotel shaped like a seagull, apartments and a 2,000-seater beach stadium, which will be used for beach football and volleyball.

The floating harbour, which takes its design cue from The Palm, will be the most familiar to Dubai residents.

“Beach football has become very popular in England but our national team doesn’t have a home stadium, so I hope this could be a viable option,” he said.

“There will also be a fountain like the one in Dubai although, again, on a much smaller scale.

“The biggest challenge is going to be the new underground car park, which will require a lot of engineering.”

The designs take into account the latest research on global warming and the threat of rising sea levels.

“The reclamation project will involve the raising of the beaches to a higher level so that they are protected from any potential increases in water levels,” Mr Mitchell said.

A public consultation has now started on the project, but a planning application is yet to be made to the Borough of Poole.

“The responses have been mixed so far,” he said. “Some people like it but others do not. We could potentially file an application to the council in a couple of months.”

If and when permission is granted, the project would take about five years to complete.

“At this stage though, we will be able to get it off the ground only if we can get the funding,” he said.

“It would need someone from the Middle East, China or Russia to help with the financing.”

Poole’s proximity to London is another attractive feature for potential international investors, he said.

Mr Mitchell has long-standing ties with Dubai and is amazed at how quickly it has become an international destination for business and tourism.

“We first came to Dubai 12 years ago on a family holiday and, since then, I would say we have been there about 100 times,” he said.

“I saw the development of The Palm, Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa. In fact, we actually lived in the Burj Al Arab for a year and have property on The Palm and an apartment in Burj Khalifa.”

The former football chairman even ran a property company in the emirate and visits four or five times a year with family, he said.

“We would be more than happy to present our plans to potential investors in the UAE or elsewhere.”

For more details visit www.sevendevs.com.

nhanif@thenational.ae