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Luxury hotel plans for Red Sands sea fort off Kent Coast unveiled by Aros Architects and businessman David Cooper

By Aidan Barlow

A businessman has revealed ambitious plans to convert decaying Second World War sea forts into a luxury hotel complex.

The Red Sands sea fort, off the coast of Herne Bay and Whitstable, was originally built in 1943 to ward off German aircraft.

After becoming home to pirate radio broadcasters for Radio Sutch in the 1960s, the series of forts has gradually began to rust.

David Marriot Cooper
David Marriot Cooper

But now retired businessman David Marriot Cooper has outlined his vision for how the forts could be converted into a unique hotel and spa, and provide a new heritage museum.

He said: “I like new ideas, when a new idea comes along I like to get involved. None of this would have happened without me meeting someone in a bar asking if I could help them out.

“I was approached to try and do something for these forts because for ten years nothing has happened. So I want a project which keeps the integrity of the towers as they are, rather than seeing them knocked down.”

Red Sands sea forts off the coast of North Kent
Red Sands sea forts off the coast of North Kent

Mr Cooper has written to hotel developers, the Port of London Authority and Crown Estates to explore his idea.

He said a similar scheme to convert old sea forts had been completed in the Solent, with rooms up for as much as £800 a night.

Guests would either fly in in helicopters of zoom in on Hovercraft from Essex, Whitstable or Central London.

Aros Architects have unveiled how the hotel complex could look
Aros Architects have unveiled how the hotel complex could look

He has also enlisted the help of Aros Architects from London, who have put together a rubber ring idea for the site, with a helipad on the central command tower and bridges connecting to the other four towers.

Aros associate director Jenny Fitzgerald said: “They are amazing structures, and the challenge for us will be retaining the towers as they stand.

“We want to celebrate the incredible engineering of the past, but also create something for the future. They are beautiful in their own way, but they do need intervention, and it’s important how we do that.”

How the forts could look. Image from Aros Architects
How the forts could look. Image from Aros Architects

There could be more than 40 rooms, including standard, penthouse and executive suites all located in the four former gun towers.

The former searchlight tower would be restored to its former glory as a heritage museum from the Second World War.

But time is pressing. Robin Adcroft, chairman of the Project Red Sands charity who currently maintain the forts, said: “At the moment we are doing as much as we possibly can with the funds we have.

Red Sands sea forts off the coast of Kent
Red Sands sea forts off the coast of Kent

“We really need to get a move on. There has been an acceleration in the deterioration of the steelwork. It is salvageable now, but it might not be in ten years time. So we’re pulling all the stops out.

“I was amazed when I got here in the 1960s. This is incredible and we can’t just let it rot away.”

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