Boscombe surf reef reopens after repairs

Surfing on Bournemouth seafront The artificial reef will host the Surf Festival in September

Europe's first artificial surf reef has reopened three years after it was closed over safety fears.

The £3.2m structure in Boscombe, Dorset, had to be shut in 2011 after sandbags were damaged by a boat's propeller.

Surf reef timeline

  • January 2007 - Work begins to revamp Boscombe Pier alongside development of artificial reef
  • October 2007 - Reef expected to be 12 months late following fishermen's complaints
  • May 2008 - Council finalises deal with ASR Ltd to complete project by end of the year
  • July 2008 - Construction begins at secret location in Poole
  • November 2008 - Work suspended due to poor weather
  • April 2009 - Work resumes
  • October 2009 - Reef completed
  • November 2009 - Reef opens
  • March 2010 - First surfing contest hailed a success by organisers
  • May 2010 - The quality of the waves are deemed "sub-standard" in report
  • November 2010 - Safety report reveals "hazards" in reef structure
  • December 2010 - Council agrees improvement plan with ASR Ltd
  • March 2011 - Reef closes over safety concerns after boat propeller damages structure
  • April 2011 - Repair work begins
  • May 2012 - ASR Ltd misses repair deadline
  • September 2012 - ASR Ltd goes into liquidation
  • November 2013 - Council receives insurance settlement
  • February 2014 - Coastal activity park designs unveiled
  • April 2014 - Coastal activity park and surf reef open

It forms part of Bournemouth's new Coastal Activity Park which includes a multi-sports arena.

Mark Smith, from Bournemouth Borough Council, said he was "delighted" the reef was operational again.

Made of 55 giant sand-filled bags 740ft (225m) out at sea, the reef opened in November 2009 after lengthy delays.

The firm that built the structure, New Zealand-based ASR Ltd, went into liquidation, but the council received £306,531 from its insurers after a two-year wait to fix the damage.

Safety checks

The artificial reef will be used primarily for snorkelling activities for families until the surfing season starts, the council said.

It will host the Surf Festival in September.

Mr Smith, who is director of tourism at the council, added: "We've had the right checks after the damage was done.

"We've had [civil engineers] HR Wallingford check it out for the currents and now we're absolutely sure it's safe to use again.

"Most of the summer is calm and not suitable for surfing... we'll have the surfers able to use it when the conditions are right."

The 1 mile (1.5km) activity park between Alum Chine and Southbourne features a sporting events site and a dinghy park.

The total cost of the park, including repairs to the reef and safety checks, was £700,000.

Funding was assisted by a £254,000 grant from the government's Coastal Communities Fund.

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