Development puts future of scuba-diving centre ‘in doubt’

THE future of the oldest scuba-diving school in Europe has been cast into doubt because of plans to redevelop a former Trinity hotel in which it is based, the owner of the business has revealed.

Toyah Tomkins is the owner of Bouley Bay Dive Centre Picture: ROB CURRIE (31324241)
Toyah Tomkins is the owner of Bouley Bay Dive Centre Picture: ROB CURRIE (31324241)

Toyah Tomkins, who runs the Bouley Bay Dive Centre, said she had not been given any guarantees that the dive centre would be included in plans to redevelop the Water’s Edge Hotel and fears she could be priced out of any future commercial lease offered to them.

There are currently two planning applications for the Water’s Edge Hotel site.

One involves building 25 self-catering apartments and has been approved. The other is for the construction of an eight-bedroom home with staff quarters on the site.

While both plans include retaining a dive shop and building a new restaurant, Ms Tomkins said the applications had led people to into a false sense of security and to believe that the dive centre was staying.

‘While [the plans] include a dive centre, it does not include our dive centre. We have not been offered a lease or any certainty at all. We are worried that when the development is built, we will be priced out of any lease and it will be too expensive for us to afford,’ she said. ‘The centre has been in the Island for 70 years and it is an integral part of the bay. We do not want to let down the diving community by removing their centre.’

Ms Tomkins said she had been told by the owner that some of the work to demolish the hotel could start in October, which meant that the business would have to relocate until the proposed development was complete.

She added that she had contacted Trinity Constable Philip Le Sueur to discuss potential temporary solutions.

‘We will have to wait a few years to move in – if we even get that lease at all. It has been suggested we buy shipping containers and apply for permits to put them at Bouley Bay as well as paying to install three-phase electricity. This planning and work takes months and would be a big hit on a small local business who, by no fault of its own, would be required to pay for a temporary home,’ she said.

Ms Tomkins said that, in an ideal situation, they would be offered a lease before the development began so that they could decide whether the facilities would suit.

She has launched a survey, accessible through the Bouley Bay Dive Centre Facebook page, to get Islanders’ thoughts and to gather support for the centre.

A spokesperson from MS Planning, who are acting on behalf of the developers, said: ‘We are presently in discussions with Bouley Bay Dive Centre.’

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