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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 09:10 GMT
Harbour island is 'dream' location
By Rachel Grant
BBC News, Dorset

Long Island. Courtesy of Stephen Noble Estate Agents
Long Island is on the market for the first time in 250 years

It may only be a scrap of land, but the makeshift helipad painted on the grass for potential buyers gives a fair idea of the visiting clientele.

When Long Island came on the market for the first time in more than 250 years, the nine-acre plot was bound to attract a lot of attention.

It is one of five islands in Poole Harbour, Dorset, the second largest natural harbour in the world.

The owners, Rempstone Estate, have invited offers in excess of 1m but hope to get a far higher price, despite a lack of any buildings or planning permission for development.

For two weeks, the estate agents have been courting investors, celebrities and those wanting to expand international property portfolios.

It really is a private bit of heaven
Stephen Noble, estate agent

While some have arrived by helicopter - an eight-minute ride from Bournemouth airport - others have had to make do with a trip in the estate agent's luxury boat, with a short transfer onto the beach in a flat-bottomed Poole canoe.

It certainly has a glorious setting.

Poole Harbour is a vast and serene expanse, surrounded by beautiful countryside.

'Dream come true'

From Long Island you can see the rolling Purbeck hills, the mysterious ruins of Corfe Castle, the opulent stretch of Sandbanks and the commercial port at Poole.

The island itself boasts beaches, cliffs, heath land, salt marshes and both evergreen and deciduous woodland.

It is squeezed into nine and a half acres of dry land, stretching to 30 acres at low tide.

Woodland floor, Long Island
The island has diverse plant and animal life

"It's got everything in one neat parcel," says estate agent Stephen Noble. "I think it will be a dream come true for someone. It really is a private bit of heaven.

"It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest protected by English Nature, but I think someone will buy this because they fall in love with it."

However, potential Crusoes might be disappointed that the island is separated from its nearest neighbour, the inhabited Round Island, by a channel only a few feet wide, and the nearest mainland shore is a very short trip away.

Camping only

There is no planning permission to build on Long Island, but camping is allowed.

The harbour's four other islands are busier.

Brownsea Island was the birthplace of the Scouting movement in 1907 and is now owned by the National Trust.

Furzey Island is owned by BP and has an oil pump on it, and both Green Island and Round Island have houses on them.

Long Island's only known residents were the late master potter Guy Sydenham and his family, who lived in a converted motor torpedo boat moored there in the 1950s.

He worked the island's clay and commuted to work at Poole Pottery where he was a leading designer.
It's a bit of heath land that doesn't generate any income

Douglas Ryder
Rempstone Estate

Rempstone Estate has owned Long Island since the 19th Century, when it was purchased as part of vast area of land on the south side of Poole Harbour.

Douglas Ryder, a member of the family of owners, says: "We're selling it because it's a bit of heath land that doesn't generate any income. It's out of the way and off the radar."

Although that is part of the appeal for many prospective buyers, the island is not completely undisturbed.

Deer, foxes and small mammals have been seen on the island, while sea, wading and woodland birds have made it home and the occasional seal and porpoise visits nearby waters.

Stag parties

Less charming are the stag and hen parties which have been known to sneak on. "There are a few visitors judging by the bags full of rubbish we pick off the island," admits Mr Ryder.
Long Island: courtesy of Stephen Noble Estate Agents
Long Island boasts "spectacular views of Purbeck Hills"

"I camped on Long Island as a child and it was great fun, but as pleasure pursuits have increased over the past 20 years more people have taken use of it, with permission and probably without permission too."

Military training exercises have also been carried out there and youth organisations have organised events on the island.

Whether the new owners are prepared to tolerate such infringements on their treasured island remains to be seen.

Island on sale for more than 1m
26 Oct 07 |  Dorset
Dorset town is least affordable
17 Aug 06 |  England

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