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Hollaway reveals plans to replace Poole’s 1980s Thistle Hotel


Hollaway has become the latest architect to draw up plans to redevelop the Thistle Hotel site in Poole Harbour

The practice has put forward proposal for 228 apartments and a 120-bed hotel at Fisherman’s Dock, following a string of failed and withdrawn schemes by other firms, including EPR and Carey Jones, over the past two decades.

In 2018 the council allocated the site for redevelopment in its local plan, earmarking the plot for a new hotel and about 180 homes. 

Hollaway’s concept, which will see the 1980s waterfront hotel demolished and replaced by a 32,400m² mixed-use development, is currently out to ‘virtual’ consultation.

Explaining how the practice has been able to gather feedback from the local community during the coronavirus lockdown, a spokesperson for the practice said: ’Working with our client MHA London to a tight project timeline has meant that we have had to conduct the public consultation during the current pandemic.

’With the creation of a consultation website and animated sketch video (see below), a digital platform has been created on which people are able to comment and interact with their local development.’

The scheme is set to be submitted for planning in August and could be decided before the end of the year.

Architect’s view

Our approach to the design of Fisherman’s Dock has been inspired by Poole’s rich history. The Quay is a fundamental part of the town’s character, itself documenting years of change in its eclectic mix of architecture and uses. Materiality is key to Poole, and the Quayside illustrates the range of materials present, from the famous glazed tiles of The Poole Arms, to modern materials used on more recent developments. This variety of scale, heights and forms are a fundamental characteristic of the town and directly related to its industrial past.

Historic aerial photo of site

Historic aerial photo of site

Historic aerial photo of site

The site was previously occupied by part of the East Quay Gasworks and offered a valuable mooring point for coal ships coming in and out of Poole. To the rear of the site sat three distinctive industrial buildings of significant scale, each with a very different form to its neighbour.

These key buildings would have been visible from across the town and their forms directly influenced our concept for the redevelopment of the site.

The scheme features three residential blocks recreate these historic forms, running north-south across the site, housing 228 apartments. Publicly accessible spaces weave between, recreating the permeable street frontage seen further to the west along The Quay and enabling direct pedestrian routes through the site to the waterfront.

On the quayside, we propose three commercial spaces, enlivening and extending the existing Quay frontage further east towards the RNLI Museum.

At the eastern most corner of the site, a 120-bedroom hotel is proposed, complete with a rooftop restaurant and bar. This publicly accessible space will offer views across the harbour towards Brownsea Island.

Working with Place Landscape Architects public routes have been designed to meander through the site, providing gateways through to the waterfront. Beneath these are 264 underground parking spaces as well as secure cycle spaces which will be provided for every residential unit.

The emerging proposals offer a significant opportunity to celebrate Poole’s past, with the hotel overlooking the lifeboat museum and creating a book-end to the Quay. Above this, the destination restaurant and bar encourage visitors and locals alike to take in the outstanding views across Poole harbour.

Our clients, MHA, have placed emphasis on local and artistic engagement, and are exploring the potential for local artists to contribute to the scheme. Alongside consideration of including a gallery space within the commercial offering, MHA hope to host a competition encouraging artists to put forward their proposals for the renovation and enhancement of a pumping station on the site. This competition would seek to enhance its appearance, whilst maintaining its function. 

Poole sketch no h

Poole sketch no h

Project data

Location Poole
Local Authority Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council
Type of project Mixed-use scheme
Client MHA London
Architect Hollaway
Landscape architect Place Landscape Architects
Planning consultant Montagu Evans
Structural engineer Waterman Group
M&E consultant Waterman Group
Principle designer Hollaway
Lighting consultant N/A
Main contractor Not Known
Funding N/A
Tender date Not Known
Start on site date Not Known
Completion date Not Known
Contract duration N/A
Gross internal floor area circa 32,400m²
Form of contract and/or procurement N/A
Annual CO2 emissions Not Known
Total cost Not Known


Readers' comments (2)

  • So, Poole Quay has “an amazing eclectic mix of scale and character”? Many who knew it in the 70s and early 80s would say that is exactly what has been swept away since, as even a cursory look at the gross overdevelopment of Dolphin Quay to the left of the Thistle shows. But of course that now serves a precedent for the proposed scheme. As for it having “hidden” cars under it, surely that was enabled by the podium itself which helpfully jacks up the whole shebang so it intrudes even more!? It started with the Tradewinds estate behind Baiter Beech in the mid 80s and sadly BCP council, ironically in their nice little Deco town hall, seems to have lost all control on development on the quay. And don’t get me started about Sandbanks…

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  • Completely agree I grew up in Poole and went to primary school not far from this site and the whole town centre is completely unrecognisable now

    Also agree that Sandbanks defies description -such a shame

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