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Isolated forts in Solent could become unique secluded homes

14 05 20 solent forts v2

Conversion into homes is just one of the options for iconic 19th century forts being marketed through Colliers International

Two isolated forts in the Solent strait, which were built in Victorian times in case of a French invasion, have been brought to the market with the option to convert into unique secluded homes with 360 degree sea views.

No Man’s Fort and Spitbank Fort are presently luxury island retreat hotels, but are the subject of a planning permission change to residential use. They are being offered for sale together with a third undeveloped fort called Horse Sand Fort by global real estate advisor Colliers International and Strutt & Parker.

Owner Mike Clare, the entrepreneur and founder of Dreams bed company, said No Man’s Fort and Spitbank Fort offered a rare opportunity for anyone seeking a remote, private coastal residence.

“In addition to having incredible all-round sea views, the forts are fully self-sufficient with their own fresh water wells, marine generators supplying electrical power, cellular telecoms, internet connection, wi-fi network and sanitised sewage treatment plants,” he commented.

“Both forts have won considerable acclaim as luxury hotels and if a purchaser of one or both of them wanted to continue this use then we could leave planning permission as it is.

“However, the option is now also there for a new owner to implement the planning permission that has been granted and create a unique holiday home, or folly, or private party place where there would be no risk of complaints from neighbours about noise.”

Known as The Solent Forts, the three 19th century former fortresses are located in the Solent strait of the English Channel, between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, and can be purchased either individually or as a group of two or three.

No Man’s Fort has a guide price of £4.25 million and offers of around £4 million are being invited for Spitbank Fort. Horse Sand Fort, which is presently undeveloped, is available for offers around £750,000.

Mr Clare said: “Spitbank Fort and No Man’s Fort have always been my favourite venues, but I’ve decided to retire from the hotel industry and to bid farewell to my ‘James Bond dream’ of Spitbank Fort, No Man’s Fort and Hose Sand Fort.”

Paul Barrasford, Director in the Hotels Agency team at Colliers International, said: “Some time before the pandemic, the decision was taken (for business reasons) to shutter No Man’s Fort, though the plan was to leave it available for private hire. The new business model would have seen almost all revenues channelled into Spitbank Fort, making it a much stronger business than it had been in previous years. Both the developed forts have an incredible product offering and it hopefully won’t be too long before guests can start to enjoy them again.

“As the pandemic restrictions begin to lift, the new business model for Spitbank will restart and over time we expect it to become a very strong business. However, with the challenges posed by social distancing now is the right time to also explore an alternative use sale.  Conversion to ultra-private residences seems the most likely route, though other uses, once lockdown has been completely lifted, might be events space, training centre, casino, spa, wellness retreat, party venue or recording studio.”

Mr Barrasford added that while enjoying seclusion, the forts are quickly accessible from Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth; Spitbank being just a 15-minute boat ride.

No Man’s Fort extends to 99,000 sq ft over four floors and has 23 en-suite guest bedrooms/suites; staff quarters; a restaurant; five themed bars; laser battle play area and a spa. It also features a lighthouse with private dining, rooftop hot tubs, sauna, fire pit, hot pool and helipad. 

Spitbank Fort totals 33,000 sq ft over three floors, and has nine luxurious guest suites plus staff accommodation, events spaces including a restaurant, two bars and a ‘wine cave’. It features an open central courtyard, plus roof top terrace including sauna, fire pit and hot pool.

Horse Sand Fort is the same size as No Man’s and has 100 original chambers and living quarters, plus original gun carriages and armour-plated walls. It previously had planning permission for 22 luxury residential apartments. 

For more information, please contact Paul Barrasford at Colliers International on +44 207 344 6963 or +44 7826 860419, email: or James MacKenzie at Strutt & Parker on +44 20 7318 5190, email: