Plans for the UK's first inland surfing centre received a major boost recently after a leading horticulturist was recruited to design the landscape around a lagoon.
Institute of Horticulture president Sue Minter has been signed up to masterplan grounds to help define Wavegarden UK, the £6m development project in Bristol. The 5.6ha site is currently derelict but an outline planning application has been submitted to the local authority.
The man-made lagoon at the centre of the garden will generate 70 waves an hour up to 1.6m high. The project is the brainchild of two keen surfers, one of whom insists that the venture will be popular enough to attract private cash from investors.
Minter said: "The gardens will have a therapeutic and sensory feel to tie in with the healthy aspect of surfing. They will also celebrate the fact that Bristol is the most multicultural city in the South West with plots for ethnic medicinal plants."
Her background includes spells as a supervisor of the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, curator at Chelsea Physic Garden and horticultural director at the Eden Project.
Wavegarden UK founders Tobin Coles and Nick Hounsfield said they wanted the gardens to become a world-class attraction. It was as important for people to enjoy the gardens as it was for them to surf, they added.
They originally unveiled their plans late last year and building work could start in the summer, subject to planning approval and finance being agreed, said Minter. Both men have put up £100,000 to roll out initial phases of the scheme.
Surfing - Boom sport
Surfing is one of Britain's fastest-growing sporting activities, with more than 250,000 regular surfers and another 200,000-plus people taking lessons every year. There are more than 20 million surfers worldwide across 86 countries.