PLANS have now been submitted to build a surf lagoon near Ringwood.

W H White want to create the inland surf lagoon on land southeast of A31 Ringwood Road, either side of Brocks Pine in St Leonards and make improvement to Avon Heath Country Park.

What the applications say

An outline planning application has been submitted to Dorset Council seeking permission for the development of a surf lagoon, outdoor climbing wall, visitor reception, cafe and administration building, and associated landscaping, together with an ancillary glamping pod site and its service buildings.

The proposals also include the erection of buildings in the country park extension incorporating a cafe, toilets, and car park kiosk, which would replace demolished country park buildings, as well as play facilities and the creation of a skate park, cycle park and wild play structures.

A full planning application has also been submitted for change of use of agricultural land (of approximately 11.5ha) to Suitable Alternative Natural Green space (SANG), change of use of agricultural land (of approximately 3.8ha) to a country park which would be an extension to the existing Avon Heath Country Park as well as the demolition of an existing cafe and visitor centre in Avon Heath Country Park.

The applicants say they want to "work collaboratively to create a much-improved country park, alongside a significant area of natural greenspace to preserve and protect the Dorset Heaths at no cost to the tax payer".

The wider Avon Heath Country Park will continue to be owned and operated by Dorset Council, providing the same facilities, open spaces and events that it does currently.

Surf lagoon

The inland surf lagoon will include:

• A surfing lake consisting of a cove-shaped lagoon which will produce white-water waves for beginners, up to 1.8-metre barrelling waves for elite surfers and adaptive surfing (assistance and accessibility) facilities.

• Surfing visitor building with green roof

• Visitor centre (relocated from the country park), forest school and café/toilets

• Cycle park

• Skate park

• Walking routes

• Green open spaces

• Seasonal camping field

• A new roundabout access off of Brocks Pine

• 380 car parking spaces

• New pedestrian access points linking St Leonards to the site via the existing pedestrian over-bridge

The surf lagoon is expected to be able to cater for around 30 surfers at any one time.

Planning statement

The planning, design and access statement submitted with the plans said that surfing is "one of the quickest growing sports both globally and in the UK" and an inland surfing lagoon is a "world-class sports, leisure and surf destination where the whole family can surf on consistent, safe waves".

The document adds: "The proposed surf lagoon, which is supported by governing body Surfing England, is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Dorset to cement its reputation as a surf destination and natural playground. This world class facility will ensure Dorset continues to hold its own against cities like Bristol and Birmingham which have developed inland surf lagoons that are already drawing visitors, tourism and expenditure from Dorset."

The statement also adds that the demolition and replacement of existing buildings from the country park and the extension to it, alongside the SANG, is "very much intended to alleviate recreational disturbance on the neighbouring healthland where visitor pressures, especially dog walking, can negatively affect the ecology there, especially the wildlife".

W H White control the land on either side of Brocks Pine and Dorset Council control Avon Heath Country Park.

How to find out more

The application is available to view and comment on by visiting Dorset Council's website (planning application reference P/OUT/2021/04412).


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