A £2million extension is planned at the Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour on the New Forest’s Beaulieu River.

Those behind the plans say the investment will preserve the marina’s unique character while keeping pace with demands for bigger berths and more convenient pontoons.

The plans, which have been approved by the Marine Management Organisation and the New Forest National Park Authority, will increase the number of moorings by 66 to 264.

Beaulieu Enterprises managing director Russell Bowman said: “The proposals represent a significant investment in the future of the Beaulieu River and are an important part of ensuring that it remains one of the most desirable places to visit and moor a yacht.

“We recognise that the Beaulieu River is a very special place and are committed to undertaking the project in a sensitive and sustainable way.

“Its unique character remains of paramount importance to us for its future.

“The reconfiguration will offer the best possible service for our customers, while keeping a similar look and feel to the existing yacht harbour.”

The yacht harbour opened in 1971 and was developed over a decade.

The Beaulieu Estate describes it as “largely untouched by the passage of time”.

The river has been in the ownership of the Montagu family for more than four centuries and is one of the few privately owned rivers in the world.

The Beaulieu Estate is working with agencies including Natural England and the Environment Agency to protect its habitats and species.

Specialist marina consultancy Marina Projects, based in Gosport, has been appointed to help oversee the redevelopment. Work is scheduled to be carried out over the winters of 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 to minimise disruption to marina customers out of the main season.

Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour, which benefits from its proximity to the yahcting hub of Cowes, was recently awarded the Yacht Harbour Association’s Coastal Marina of the Year (for under 250 berths) trophy.

Round the World race winner Mike Golding recently opened its five-star facilities after a further investment.

The marina has an open policy boatyard and chandlery, along with free Wi-Fi, a restaurant, bar and tea shop.

It is on the doorstep of the historic ship-building village of Buckler’s Hard. Originally called Montagu Town, it was built by the second Duke of Montagu as a free port for trading with the West Indies.

The village, with its sheltered waterway and ready access to timber, became famous from the 18th century onwards for ship-building. It built warships for Lord Nelson’s navy, including three that took part in the Battle of Trafalgar.

Its history is recorded at the Maritime Museum in the village.