Hove bar owner attacks neighbours over objections

Posted On 04 Dec 2020 at 4:50 pm


The millionaire owner of a new Hove bar has launched a blistering attack on his neighbours, accusing them of of “undermining the community” by objecting to his plans.

Venture capitalist Luke Davis has transformed the former View nightclub, renaming it Rockwater and giving it a £4 million makeover, including a new retractable glass roof.

He has also installed temporary beach huts and glazed igloos in the garden to help serve customers in a socially distanced way during lockdown.

The plans have attracted near-universal approval from the neighbourhood, with hundreds of people commenting in favour of the planning application for the glass roof.

But a handful of objections – one from nearby resident and Boxpark CEO Roger Wade – has prompted Mr Davis to make accusations of underhand plots which have left the business “fighting for its life”.

The latest accusations been prompted by a letter of objection to a permanent alcohol licence for the beach huts, which Mr Wade submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council this week.

In the letter, Mr Wade said: “We live in a quiet residential neighbourhood and noise from customers leaving the premises from 10pm onwards already causes noise disturbance.

“We have tolerated this until now, but feel that enough is enough and the ability to sell alcohol from the outside shacks should now end.

“This has, in recent days, caused a huge amount of nuisance on the sea front in Hove and any continued use of these shacks will only exacerbate the issue.

“A recent report highlighted that the owners were ‘overwhelmed’ by the crowds on the sea front and that the residents had lost faith in the operator being able to provide a safe and secure facility.”

Mr Davis said: “He is actively working against the community of Hove who, time and time again, have shown their overwhelming support for what we are hoping to achieve here at Rockwater Hove.

“We sought to found Rockwater Hove that created a community hub, offering not just a place to socialise, but also to bring locals together to enjoy a host of health and wellbeing classes, that benefitted everyone.

“This project was truly about unity and rejuvenating a community, which incidentally, are the exact same reasons that Roger Wade founded Boxpark.”

The row first broke out publicly in September, when Mr Davis and Mr Wade argued on the Hove Seafront Residents Association Facebook group.

Mr Wade said he was concerned about the combination of a roof terrace and a 3am licence, and asked Mr Davis to consider reducing the venue’s opening hours to midnight.

Mr Davis insisted the venue would usually close much earlier, but needed to be able to open into the early hours about once a month for weddings or other functions.

This week, Mr Wade told Brighton and Hove News: “As a local resident and member of the Walsingham Road Resident Association, I have a right to be concerned about a late-night venue open seven days a week until 3am.”

The planning application for the roof – which also includes a new pergola – doesn’t mention opening hours. It was submitted in August and is still under consideration. It currently has close to 600 supportive comments.

The application for a permanent alcohol licence for the beach shacks until 10pm was submitted in November and is also still under consideration.

In the years before Rockwater took over, the venue was called The View, The Venue and Babylon Lounge. It was used mainly to host parties, disco nights for language students and male strip nights, which often attracted hen parties.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Surely the right thing is for all this to wait to go through the legal Licensing processes.

    • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

      It is, Christopher. But it is also a great shame that everything in this city seems to be concerned with serving gallons of alcohol ad infinitum, whereas there are very many people here that do not get involved with any of these alcoholic ‘attractions’ and would never want to. As a hopefully normal citizen, if I want a nice day out (i.e. not a booze-up, but a quiet meal by the sea or a peaceful walk along a prom) then I go to Seaford or Eastbourne, which seem to understand something which B&H plainly does not.

      • Nigel Furness Reply

        Absolutely right, “Fed-up with Brighton politics”!
        Prior to the merger of the two towns, Hove was traditionally the quieter, more local families-orientated area and it’s seafront reflected this, while Brighton was the more hedonistic of the two which catered for the tourists, as well as locals from both towns who preferred the ‘bright lights,’ as well as the fishing fleet.
        It should be noted that MANY Brighton residents who were keen to escape the Summer crowds, made their way over to the Hove Promenade in order to enjoy a QUIETER more peaceful experience.
        It’s a great shame that this was not reflected in the City Plan but, it’s surely something to be working towards NOW as we approach the next one!

  2. Jürgen Selk Reply

    PART ONE:

    Let me state my name up front, so that there is no doubt.

    My name is Jürgen Selk, and I am the president of the Walsingham Road Residents Association. I write these comments strictly as a reflection of my own personal perspective.

    Let me be very clear: the personal attacks by Luke Davis against local residents who are raising reasonable objections to his megalomaniac venture are outrageous. He likes to portray himself as the Mother Teresa of local residents, having nothing but the well-being of the local community in mind. How nice. In reality, he is anything but. In private communications against some of the local residents who have dared raise objections, he spews vitriol and threats of such an offensive nature that they would make Donald Trump blush.

    Speaking of Donald Trump, let’s have quick look at fidelity to honesty and decency; more specifically, let’s examine the public opinion shenanigans of Mr. Davis and the Rockwater PR machine that never shirks at bulldozing through the obstacles to Mr. Davis’ profit driven enterprise, no matter how this may impact local residents, especially those in the immediate vicinity.

    In this hit piece here, Mr. Davis is quoted as saying, “He [Mr. Wade] is actively working against the community of Hove who, time and time again, have shown their overwhelming support for what we are hoping to achieve here at Rockwater Hove.”

    This is laughable on its face. Let’s first examine the “overwhelming support” claim. Recently, Mr. Davis (or purportedly his wife) set up a phony “petition page” on you.38degrees.org.uk, with the terror inducing header, “Save Rockwater’s Shacks by the Shore and Igloo Village”! You can view (and sign!!) that petition here:

    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-rockwater-s-shacks-by-the-shore-and-igloo-village

    Clever man that he is, Mr. Davis even managed to get the Argus to report on his wonderful Rockwater endeavour (again) by reporting on this petition. You can read the Argus article here:

    https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18884838.petition-launched-save-rockwater-igloos-huts-hove/

    In the article, Mr. Davis reportedly states, “Almost 10,000 people have said they love Rockwater, the beach huts and the igloos and the petition may even reach 20,000 signatures.”

    Oh really? I took a very close look at this (I just did so again a minute ago). The petition has reached 16,775 signatures!! What an accomplishment: congratulations! 50 million Elvis fans can’t be wrong!

    Then I began examining the comments and signatures in support of this “petition.” Check it out for yourself, click through it: really, you should. After a few strategically placed supportive statements on the first several click-throughs on “Read more” (of course, nothing but supportive statements!! just like Donald Trump!!), the comments all of a sudden become as peculiar as they are entertaining. One comment is from “Gigi S.”, and states: “My name is Gigi, and I write from Bulgaria. If my nose was running money, I’d blow it all on you.” The next one states: “My name is Ricky, and I write from Marshall Islands. The O’o a’a bird was so called because it laid square eggs.” The next one states: “My name is Lena, and I write from Cameroon. I once had a little kangaroo.” And on and on it goes. In fact, I couldn’t find an end to this nonsense. Are there more than the initial 6 positive comments (the ones we are apparently meant to see, before we lose interest in clicking), I wonder?

    Yeah, some support. Well done, Mr. Davis.

    • Lucette Thompson Reply

      Dear Jurgen
      I couldn’t agree with you more. I love on the seafront overlooking the Rockwater and over the last year I have seen an increase in rubbish strewn on the greens directly oppiosite my property, groups of people collecting and urinating and punters parking illegally on bus lanes. I have reported this endlessly to the council but nothing is done. I am all for a venue on Hove seafront but what O don’t appreciate is the arrogance and lack of understanding the issues presented by both parties. I do object to the igloos because since they have been erected, a PUBLIC footpath has been blocked by the Rockwater which I walk along daily and the construction of three temporary igloos attract rats and foxes. I find Mr Davis a person who really needs to stop lording it and behave reasonably and with integrity.

  3. J Selk Reply

    PART TWO of THREE
    But nevermind honesty about this. The petition reports 16,775 signature, so Mr. Davis apparently decides to run with that. Apparently, for Mr. Davis, that is sufficient to show the “overwhelmining community support”!

    But really, I wonder: does “Ricky from the Marshall Islands” have community standing? How about the Maharaja of Jaipur?

    This petition is as phony as Mr. Davis’ contention that his primary interest is “unity” (see my “Mother Teresa” comment above… well, if “Rev.” Davis speaks of unity, we surely should all join hands and sing Kumbaya!) and “rejuvenating a community.”

    What a laugh! I am not an octagenarian yet; far from it. I don’t need rejuvenation. I do know that even before Rockwater, that part of Hove beach was very popular, even if “The Venue” was a dump. It really was. But what is happening now is not “rejuvenation.” It is profit greed run amok.

    That’s right. PROFIT GREED. This has nothing to do with wanting the best for the community. This has EVERYTHING to do with churning out as much profit as possible.

    Just look at what’s happened already. The place isn’t even open yet. But every day, what used to be a pleasant stroll along the beach front, has become an obstacle course due to all the clientele clogging up the promenade outside the temporary huts. Mountains of beer vats are clogging public areas: how nice. All in the spirit of “rejuvenation,” I am sure. Rubbish is piling up and overflowing bins that never used to be there to begin with.

    You think that this is just my personal opinion? Well, have a read of this article in the Argus:

    https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/18910761.coronavirus-social-distancing-concerns-rockwater-hove/

    Even Mr. Davis had to concede:

    “THE OWNER of a multi-million pound development on the seafront has described weekend crowds outside his business as ‘unacceptable’. Luke Davis, from Rockwater Hove, said his Shacks By The Shore selling takeaway food and alcohol were ‘completely overwhelmed’ by crowds on Saturday and Sunday. Pictures sent to The Argus from concerned readers show hordes of people on the seafront outside the beach huts, which opened in June. Mr Davis said: ‘We understand this was not acceptable.'”

    But… wait for it: now Mr. Davis wants to make his Shacks “permanent.”

    O really? And local residents living just opposite this venue should just swallow that? And ADDITIONALLY accept licensing his hideous igloos that would cause light pollution and noise at night, to say nothing of causing even MORE crowd congestion?

    But wait, there is more.

    Rockwater has also installed a seating platform on a PUBLIC beach (which I believe is illegal), which, due to Covid, thankfully is currently closed. By the way, that structure is already becoming structurally deficient due to the impact of weather and tide. Is it even safe? Nevermind.

    Now, a bunch of hideous, cheap and flimsy igloos have completely taken over a public lawn that has for countless years been used as a play area for local children. The lawn behind Rockwater was particularly popular with children playing football, as the walls on either end contained “natural” football goals.

    Children were actually playing on the lawn behind the Rockwater venue when they were told to shove off by builders who began constructing the hideous igloos. Now, instead of having access to two lawns to play on, they are reduced to one lawn only: gee, thanks, Mr. Davis! I’m not sure how much local children, who by the way won’t spend much money for your enrichment, will “enjoy” these igloos. They would probably have preferred being able to continue playing ball on the lawn you have now taken over. But there is no money in children playing ball.

    Well, that’s all over, thanks to the “community oriented” activities by Rockwater. Is this lawn not, in fact, public? Why should local residents simply accept, without objection, this unacceptable grab, purely for profit reasons, and why should they then, when they object, be vilified as “spiteful” and “disingenuous”, as Maeve Davis did in the above-quoted phony sham petition?

  4. Selk Reply

    PART THREE of THREE
    In this hit piece here (i.e. the Brighton & Hove News article to which I am posting this response) Mr. Davis’ desperation seems to go one step further; why is he so scared, I wonder: just a handful of local crazies objecting versus the 17,000 petition signers, including the illustrious Maharaja of Jaipur!

    For the first time (as far as I know), one of these “spiteful” and “disingenuous” residents is now named and shamed publicly: Mr. Roger Wade. Well, let’s gather the pitch forks, shall we! Rara Rockwater!

    IT IS ENTIRELY WITHIN THE RIGHTS OF ANY LOCAL RESIDENTS TO STATE OBJECTIONS TO A NEW DEVELOPMENT WHEN THEY HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT IT. THEY SHOULD NOT BE NAMED AND SHAMED PUBLICLY WITH THE OBVIOUS AIM TO INTIMIDATE THEM INTO SILENCE.

    I know Mr. Wade. Mr Wade is a decent and honorable man. I am not sure I can say the same about Mr. Davis. I am putting my name out here publicly, because enough is enough. I will not be intimidated into swallowing the excesses of this development on my doorstep. I have lived here before Rockwater even existed. This is my neighborhood; this is my street.

    Mr. Wade and I met privately with Mr. Davis to voice our concerns about the extremely late licensing hours, and the potentional impact that could have on our road. We asked him if he would be willing to commit to a 1am cut-off time, with occasional later exceptions for special events. We made it very clear to him that we (i.e. the members of the Walsingham Road Residents Association) were supportive of the new development, but that we had serious concerns about the extremely late licensing hours and its potentially deleterious impact on our neighborhood. Mr. Davis, to our faces, stated that he would be willing to sign such a statement, and promised that he would provide it.

    He never did. Shortly after, he doubled down on his attacks on local residents. No Mother Teresa he.

    It is painfully clear, with the tremendous extension of the previous venue, and the obvious massive investment that has already occurred, that there is NO way for the profit-driven investors behind Rockwater to recover their investment, unless they massively and exponentially increase the foot traffic to this venue on a permanent basis. All applications made to date point to this aim.

    It is entirely reasonable for local residents to object to the possibility of Rockwater being granted licences that will allow it to function as a late night venue until 5am on a daily basis, with revelers stumbling through our local streets at all hours of the night, causing disturbance, littering, urinating, etc., to say nothing of the kind of crowd congestion that the Argus has ALREADY reported on.

    Mr. Davis, in the article here, outrageously and maliciously asserts that Mr. Wade “is actively working against the community of Hove.” How dare he publicly name and shame Mr. Wade as an enemy of the community?

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Both Mr. Wade and myself told Mr. Davis to his face that we support the Rockwater development, but were seeking assurances that the licensing hours be restricted. That is a fact. Mr. Davis has not honored his word and his promise that he made to us. It is malicious in the extreme to villanize a local resident by stating that he is actively working “against” the community of Hove.

    Shame on you, Mr. Davis. But I suspect shame is a human reflex peculiarly absent from your species of character.

    Zealous greed for ever more money, in some persons, leads to a gradual erosion of mitigating reflexes such as honor and decency, if they appear to impede the pursuit.

    And finally, a word on the “Hove Seafront Residents Association” and its associated Facebook group.

    We had heard about this, and Mr. Wade and myself therefore asked Mr. Davis directly if the person who is the president of the Hove Seafront Residents Association was working for him. (I do not know if said person currently still is president of the Hove Seafront Residents Association.) He confirmed that said person had “helped him” with licensing issues.

    Stop here and think about this for a minute. This would be like myself, as president of the Walsingham Road Residents Association, accepting money for something-or-other from Rockwater, and all of a sudden agitating in support of Rockwater.

    Would that be a conflict of interest? Or how about corruption?

    The question may well be more than academic. The article here states, “The row first broke out publicly in September, when Mr Davis and Mr Wade argued on the Hove Seafront Residents Association Facebook group.”

    How interesting. I myself was part of that Facebook group. I myself posted questioning comments and raised objections. No sooner had I done that than I was banned from that Facebook group. And I am not the only one who, after raising objections, was banned. I cannot post anything, I cannot read anything. My comments were not offensive or rude. They raised reasonable objections. But those aren’t welcome there. Who excluded me? And for what reason? Instead, all you see on the Hove Seafront Residents Association Facebook group is uncompromising adulation or Rockwater, purportedly from thousands of members, the majority of which don’t live anywhere near the Rockwater venue.

    The PR is certainly effective.

    I have always supported development of this site. I object however to the insane expansion of this venue, which has, not even finished yet, completely transformed the character of the seafront, to say nothing of its expansive grabbing of areas never before used for commercial purposes. With the investment that has gone into developing this site, there is no way to recover that investment without massively increasing foot traffic, and to make the increase permanent.

    Indeed: I object to that aim strenously. Rockwater may portray itself a community oriented; but is is a for-profit venture first of all, and clearly does not hesitate to trample on those members of the community who are not entirely comfortable with what they are seeing.

    I have had enough of the villanization of local residents who have the audacity to raise reasonable objections. Just read some of the blowback they received from some of the cult-like supporters of Rockwater. Here are some snippets from comments to the “petition” article in the Argus:

    – “What horrible neighbours”
    – “Ignore the two moaning residents. Luke Davies has worked hard and spent a lot of money trying to come up with something very different.”
    – “I despise these small minded, cruel, selfish and frankly sad individuals who campaign to destroy anything new. They sit in their little flats, scowling at the world, hiding behind their keyboard, bringing misery to anyone who tries to get on. They are the NIMBY brigade and whilst it is important that we all have a voice, they are not entitled to destroy everything new that is proposed.”
    – “This needs the support of the council,a few sad people complaining should not spoil it for the majority.”

    These kinds of comments must be music to Mr. Davis’ ears.

    Still, I hold out firm: 50 million Elvis fans CAN be wrong.

    • Shaun Fleming Reply

      Hello Mr Selk,
      If the length of your email rants are anything to go by the opening remarks you deliver at the resident association meetings for which you are president must go on for days? Although you accuse others of Trump like behaviour I think you do a very good impression yourself, complete with all caps paragraphs and accusations and conspiracy theories. Get a grip man!

      I think Rockwater is great but understand others might not and agree that reasonable complaints should be heard. But some of your comments above are overly emotional at best and complete nonsense at worse. Regardless of the points you make re the petition which may or may not be correct, just by looking at the minimal complaints to the planning application versus those in support on the council website, and through talking to many of my neighbours (we also live nearby), it is plainly obvious that the vast majority of the local community are in favour it. So just like people should respect your right to object you have to admit that you are in the minority on this issue and out of step with the majority of locals. I’m also not sure what your issue is with the owners wanting to make a profit – I mean shock horror!

      I don’t actually think the comments I have read on different forums from either Mr Davis, Mr Wade or now yourself do either of you any favours. I’d be embarrassed and hope that in the cold light of day each of you are.

      P.s. just some advice, if the above is an example of the comments you make on social media , then the Facebook group you complain of being banned from probably won’t be the last one that takes that action.

      • Mary Mac Reply

        You will surely not find too many people admitting to being part of Mr Selk’s residents association after that 1am rant (he will have a hard time convincing anyone he wasn’t three bottles of wine deep when he wrote that). By the sounds of things he’d still be enjoying a tipple at 3am at rockwater so he’ll not have to worry about the noise anyway. Encore please Jurgen!

  5. Carole Jordan Reply

    I see Mr Wade is the owner of f Boxpark which is an urban licensed leisure & pleasure centre. Having visited his Croydon development I can see why he is worried. If there was any hint of something as loud and garish as his creations id be the one complaining. It’s time he had some humility and faith in others not to behave as he does.

  6. Jürgen Selk Reply

    You can read a detailed response to this article here:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1684449725061294

  7. Nathan Adler Reply

    Mr Wade should wind his neck in. Alright for him to make money but against others? This is pure NIMBYISM and we all know it. The venue looks amazing and should be congratulated for being inclusive by looking to have a changing places facility, (the only one in Hove!). 17,000 signatures in support is truly impressive. Good luck to Mr Davis.

  8. Jürgen Selk Reply

    Most the 17,000 signatures you refer to appear to be fake. This is a fake petition. Just click through the comments (“Read More”) and you will see. It’s a bunch of PR nonsense to railroad over local residents in the immediate vicinity who are raising reasonable objections. But even if the petition were real, the number of signatures itself would validate the objections raised. The exponential increase in patronage that clearly is the aim here will most certainly negatively impact those living in the immediate vicinity. Just look at what already happened last weekend; crowd madness, absent any social distancing, while Rockwater kept serving food and alcohol. Even Luke Davis had to make a public statement about how wrong that was: he had to: it was plainly evident. But they kept selling food and booze anyway.

  9. michael hemming Reply

    I’ll certainly will not be useing it ,it’ll be massively over priced like the rest of hove and Brighton pubs ,its not really serving the local community just day trippers and tourists, give it a couple of years and it’ll be on the market as a tax fiddle

  10. Roger Wade Reply

    I refuse to get involved in a personal attack against Mr Davis and Rockwater. My only comment is that as a local resident I have a right to oppose the Rockwater planning and licensing application. Myself and fellow members of Walsingham Road Residents Association are some of the closest residents to Rockwater. The WRRA consists of 20+ local residents and we are supportive of Rockwater becoming a community restaurant and venue but we oppose any current expansion plans to increase the capacity and we do not want Rockwater turning into a late night venue operating 7 days a week until 3am as proposed.

    On a final note, we all live in this community and it’s important we all respect each other opinions. This is not a personal issue between myself and Mr Davis. In the end the council will make a decision on all licensing and planning matters. There are more important life and death issues than a beachfront restaurant !

    • Alistair Reply

      As a local resident I completely agree with Mr Wade. It is not Rockwater per se which I object to: this is a significant improvement to the previous use of the premises.What I object to is the opening of a late night venue in a residential area. Unfortunately any attempt to object to a night club at the end of a road is misrepresented as an objection to the venture as a whole. This is completely misleading. Similarly the online petition is subject to such bias and manipulation it should be discounted.

  11. bradly23 Reply

    blimey !! entrepreneurs attacking each other !!! local vocals, double up !!!! whatever next!!!! objections made by local premises are discounted (?) but real neighbours are “allowed.” !!!!! try sitting in the “igloo” and bring your own sandwiches and booze ….. and what about the view blocked by the second floor!!!!!!!! someone will put up a Ferris Wheel next by it ……….

  12. Arlette Reply

    Hmmmm. Interesting to read comments as someone who frequented the previous incarnations (for Salsa nights). The biggest objection seems to be it ‘becomming’ a late night venue, but we had late nights there before. Mainly until 2am but I think we had 3am for the occasional Christmas/New Year party so this isn’t something new. There were complaints from some neighbours due to our music back then, but we weren’t a ‘staggering, drunk, urinating in streets’ crowd on the whole back then, yet got complained about by local residents (I mean the Salsa dancing crowd, cant speak for the students or hen party crowd). I can see the point that increasing footfall can bring extra noise, but if the venue is better than before, then fair play, it has been a party venue in some form or other for many, many years (Island Club before Babylon). Obviously I will miss my Salsa nights (as will children miss playing ball on the lawns), but think the design and additions are needed for that kind of spend and it’s not like those activities cant be held elsewhere (although would love him to consider having Salsa nights again). I’m guessing with so many pubs and bars closed currently, there was a higher number of people than would normally be expected. So, hopefully it will be at a more acceptable level once things return to normal. Wouldn’t be hard to stipulate you want things indoors only after a certain time (as would happen with Salsa, the doors would be shut to ensure there was less noise pollution outside). Maybe by presenting what are reasonable requests (closing by midnight when it never used to isn’t one of them, sorry) maybe, would get somewhere. From Arlie, a generally supportive Hove Resident on this venture

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