Solent forts are sold to developer

Horse Sand Fort
Horse Sand Fort
Bar staff Matt Shaw and Megan McEnroe at Drift on Hayling Island

Old boathouse offers cocktails with a twist and views over the sea

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TWO of the Solent forts have been sold and will be turned into a luxury hotel and a museum.

Horse Sand fort and No Man’s Land fort have been sold to the same company, Clarenco, which bought Spitbank fort in 2009 and has turned it into a hotel and conference centre in a £3m revamp.

Clarenco has formed a new company to manage the development called Solent Forts and says this is the first time one organisation has owned all three forts.

No Man’s Land Fort is over 35,000 sq ft - three times the size of Spitbank Fort, and was converted into a luxury hotel in the 1990s.

Clarenco says it will work with English Heritage to restore it and include 30 bedrooms, an indoor swimming pool, a games and billiards room and several meeting and dining rooms. Planning has also been approved for a helipad and a marina/harbour area.

Horse Sand Fort was built between 1865 and 1880 to defend Portsmouth from the French and is almost an exact replica of No Man’s Land Fort, and has several floors fully armour plated with 15ft thick walls all round. Clarenco will transform Horse Sand Fort into a museum showcasing the artefacts and history of the three forts.

Mike Clare, Founder and President of Dreams and now owner of Clarenco is the sole private investor into Solent Forts.

He said: ‘This is a momentous day for us. Having recently invested over £3m transforming Spitbank Fort into an exclusive venue we felt we couldn’t miss the exciting and rare opportunity to add both No Man’s Land and Horse Sand Fort to our diverse portfolio of amazing retreats. The three forts will complement each other perfectly and offer something magical and unique that other venues can only dream of. Solent Forts will create employment in the local area, generate an increase in tourism and will really put the Solent and the surrounding areas on the UK tourism map.’

Guests will reach the Solent Forts by Clarenco’s own flotilla of boats from the Royal Clarence Marina in Gosport – Solent Forts’ private departure lounge.