A WATERSPORTS shop has said plans for a major surf lagoon in Dorset could be the key to stopping “the downward trend in local tourism”.
Boscombe-based Sorted Surf Shop owner Jeff Skeoch said existing surf parks in places like Bristol have proven to be “well run and family orientated” businesses.
This comes soon after developers W. H. White submitted an appeal to government against the non-determination of its application to create an artificial surf lagoon at land south east of the A31 either side of Brocks Pine and Avon Heath Country Park.
Dorset Council has yet to decide on the plans, which also include an extension to Avon Heath’s green space and a new visitor centre, café, and day nursery.
Hundreds of residents have objected to the plans – citing traffic and overdevelopment fears.
However, Mr Skeoch has urged residents to look into similar existing sites, chiefly The Wave in Bristol.
He told the Echo: “Anyone who has visited the site in Bristol can see what an incredibly positive, well run and family orientated project this would be, creating more tourism for the county, protecting the heathlands with new green space and creating world-class facilities for the local community.
“The concerns of traffic and impact on the local area we believe to be unfounded, the existing sites experience no issues to this effect due to the spread of traffic and parking throughout the day.
“We need to think of new innovations to stop the downward trend in local tourism. Forward-thinking councils like Bristol are now seeing the benefits of backing The Wave and we hope [Dorset Council] will do the same.”
The application was first submitted more than 18 months ago and W. H. White is still awaiting an update from the Planning Inspectorate, as well as a decision on whether Dorset Council will take the application to committee.
Sir Christopher Chope MP, whose Christchurch constituency includes the site, previously said the “indecision and uncertainty” over the proposal in St Leonards was “frustrating”.
The surf lagoon equates to 7.7 hectares (26 per cent) of the application site and has been backed by Surfing England.
According to developers, the venture will create more than 100 jobs and inject at least £5m into the local economy annually.