Poole, Dorset: A Dying Town?
Poole in Dorset sits on one of the largest natural harbours in the world. It takes pride in its status as a tourist town and a haven for boating enthusiasts. Sandbanks lays at the entrance to the harbour. It is one of the most expensive places in the world to live. Panorama Road consists of just 13 properties and is known locally as “millionaires row.” In 2018 those 13 properties were valued in excess of £93 million. As a result, the street is “the world’s most expensive coastal street.”
Sandbanks beach has been awarded blue flag status on multiple occasions. The beach stretches to Hengistbury Head eleven miles to the east. The water in Poole Harbour is very shallow, often no more than 18 inches deep. As a result, the harbour is popular with people learning to windsurf or kitesurf.
There is no doubt that many people see the area as a millionaire’s playground. However, the reality for most of the population is very different from the town’s image.
A Dying Town
Just a few miles from Sandbanks is Poole town centre. When I moved to Poole in 1985 there were huge plans to modernise the town. As a result, the High Street was pedestrianised in the late 1980s. A new marina on Poole Quay was completed more recently. However, this has not brought the anticipated benefits.
A mixed housing and retail development on the quay has been beset with problems. Consequently, many of the units have never been occupied. This resulted in developers going bankrupt.
The situation on the High Street is even bleaker. Because many of the shops are empty shoppers are driven elsewhere. As a result of the lower footfall, even McDonalds and Burger King have left the town. Poole is now a town where even the charity shops are closing down. Despite its enviable location serious investment is required to protect the town’s future.