Boscombe Surf Reef

Recession Busting Boscombe

Commercial regeneration investment continues
First layer of reef complete
Rescheduled work programme agreed

The innovative Boscombe Spa Village regeneration scheme in Bournemouth is progressing in spite of the national recession.  Local companies are among those who have submitted tenders to invest heavily in the new leisure facilities in the Overstrand building, which is currently being refurbished. The successful retail and catering companies will be announced Friday 21 November.

The construction of Barratt Homes’ Honeycombe Beach continues, bucking the trend of the national downturn in housing developments. The entire Boscombe Spa Village scheme is being funded by capital receipts including the sale of land to Barratts Homes.

The Overstrand
The extensive refurbishment work of the 1950s seafront Overstrand building is now clearly visible, with the exterior repainting almost complete. Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway of HemingwayDesign and the renowned founders of clothing brand Red or Dead are designing the interior of the 58 super beach huts using strong retro imagery. They are the best beach huts in the world and will overlook the surf reef. Off-plan sales of the first phase of the super beach huts will commence in the new year, allowing the first tenants to enjoy occupation in Easter 2009.

Public art and re-landscaping
Striking sculpture by renowned artist, Simon Hitchens, is in place on the Boscombe Pier Approach roundabouts. The sculpture, which has been specially designed to complement the overall re-development of the area including the nearby Grade II listed Pier, is made up of two halves depicting the sun and moon rising and falling in the east and west. The highly reflective polished granite surface has been designed to reflect the sea and sky enabling the piece to interact with the surrounding environment. It has been made from a single piece of granite, carefully sawn and worked into two halves.  The final phase of the re-landscaping is the resurfacing of the road from Sea Road down to the roundabouts and this will commence on 24 November.
The Surf Reef
The base layer of Bournemouth’s innovative artificial surf reef is approximately the size of a football pitch and is now complete. The 37 specially designed geo-textile bags that create the base layer have been anchored to the sea bed and pumped hard with more than 7,000m3 of sand.

Further to the confirmation last week that the weather was continuing to cause problems, Bournemouth Council and ASR Ltd have now agreed to suspend construction for the winter, as the shorter days and winter weather do not permit long enough working sessions for safe and effective construction on this major underwater project.    ASR has agreed that they will set up back on site next April, when weather conditions are more favourable again. 

Difficult weather conditions over the summer months brought about a later than anticipated start to the project, with the first bags being deployed on-site on Friday 29th August.  This has inevitably had a knock-on effect to the anticipated completion date, and ASR Ltd believes that the expected weather conditions over the winter months will make it impossible to complete the reef this year, as originally planned.

Dr Shaw Mead of ASR explains: “Although conditions recently have been good and the base layer has been completed to design, the late start to construction has really set us back.  The days now are short, the sea temperature is getting colder and there are stronger currents, meaning we have to limit the amount of time our divers can spend underwater.” 

He continued, “With the crucial base layer now complete and the onset of winter weather, it makes good sense to pause now and allow the base layer to settle into the sea bed.” He concluded, “We are all looking forward to returning next year to complete this innovative, landmark project for the Council.”

The ASR team have now packed up their equipment and are set to return in April 2009, with completion by September 2009.

Cllr Beverley Dunlop, Cabinet Member for Economy and Tourism said, “We are really pleased that this pioneering regeneration scheme is not being held back by the recession. A new seafront venue is being created on our doorstep which will continue to boost the local economy for decades to come.

She continued, “Our commitment remains as strong as ever. I’m delighted that we’ve reached this significant milestone by continuing the land-based elements and completing the base layer of the reef.  I know that many residents and in particular the local surfing community, Boscombe traders and hoteliers have been watching this fascinating project closely and are as keen as I am to see it completed.  But I also know that they recognise that this is a long-term investment and will share my determination to get this right and bring a reef to Boscombe that the town can be proud of, and bring the economic and regeneration benefits.”

The sand required for filling the remaining bags was obtained as part of the beach replenishment programme in 2008 and will remain on the beach over the winter period.  It will be stockpiled on a small section of the beach at the reef site in the spring, ready for the filling of the top layer.  The bags for the top layer will be securely stored over the winter.

For information and updates on the Boscombe Spa Village regeneration programme and the surf reef visit