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'Significant progress' made in Drake's Island resort plan

Planning permission was approved for a hotel on Drake's Island back in April this year. Credit: ITV News Westcountry

Developers looking to turn Plymouth's Drakes Island into a hotel and resort say they hope some building work can begin by early next year.

Rotolok, the firm owned by former Plymouth Argyle Chairman Dan McCauley finally received permission to develop on the island in April this year.

That was after over two decades of legal battles with various bodies who prioritised the protection of various rare species who inhabit the island, situated in Plymouth Sound.

Now developers day they have created a phased plan of action on transforming the island's existing buildings into a boutique hotel and spa.

The jetty to access the island will be redeveloped for easy access. Credit: Rotolok
A concept of one of the suites planned for the hotel. Credit: Rotolok

The plans include turning the Barrack Block and former Governor's house on the island into a restaurant, visitor's centre and spa, with 25 separate bedrooms. While the separate casemates building will be home to 18 suites.

Drake's Island has served as a prison, a Victorian battery and an outdoor activities centre in its long history, but has been closed to the public since 1989. Credit: ITV News Westcountry

However, the nature of the island means that any build will not be straightforward.

Tests are underway to ensure the island has sufficient power and water connected by cables and pipes to the mainland. Developers also hope construction on the existing jetty also be complete by early next year, so workers and material can be ferried safely onto the island.

Various protected species also make Drake's Island their home, including egrets, horseshoe bats and seahorses also breed in the seagrasses under the jetty.

Seahorses have a habitat in the seagrasses surrounding the island. Credit: PA

It means developers have not announced a completion date.

However, part of the plans involve access for the public to take tours of the island, and that can start to take place during construction. With the first groups hoping to access the island during the Mayflower 400 celebrations in three years time.

Sean Swales, managing director at Rotolok, said:

"We have been working with fervour dealing with the pre-commencement and pre-occupation conditions. Our first construction task has been to deal with the jetty, creating safe access to the Island and we hope to have these works completed in early 2018.

At the stage we have now reached, we have decided to see if any specialist operators would like to join us in this exciting regeneration project.

Plymouth’s waterfront is beautiful, we have an opportunity for Drake’s Island to become a must visit UK destination and create something unique within Plymouth Sound.’’

– Sean Swales, Managing Director, Rotolok

Watch Nick Smith's report in full: