Inland surfing set for London?
- Credit: John Nguyen/PA Wire
Surfing could be coming to London, according to plans announced by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) and inland surfing specialists, The Wave.
The £40million project would enhance around 100 acres of land in Lee Valley Regional Park and could make London the first capital city in the world to offer an inland surfing destination.
LVRPA, as landowner, and The Wave, whose first inland surfing venue will open in Bristol next year, will work together to develop a planning application for a world-class surfing destination called The Wave London.
This sustainable and visionary project will be the centrepiece of an exciting reinvigoration of land adjacent to the Lee Valley Athletics Centre in Edmonton, North London and will bring both visitors and jobs to the area.
The concept will allow people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to have a go at surfing, whether it’s a child stepping on a board for the first time, or a pro-surfer training for the Olympics.
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The Wavegarden Cove technology generates up to 1,000 quality waves per hour, with heights starting at 50cm and peaking at almost two metres.
The popularity of surfing is growing, and the sport will feature for the first time at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
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Engagement with local communities and interested organisations will take place alongside extensive, detailed site analysis – and subject to the results of this, a planning application will be submitted.
If plans are approved by the London Borough of Enfield and the Mayor of London, The Wave London would offer a new purpose-built surfing lake and could feature other elements, such as a high-performance surfing and skateboarding centre, health and rehabilitation, cycle trails, high ropes, and glamping accommodation.
The existing lake in the north of the Lee Valley Leisure Complex will not be affected by The Wave London and the project aims to enhance its biodiversity. Activities at the world-class Lee Valley Athletics Centre would continue as normal.
Shaun Dawson, chief executive of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, said: “These proposals have the potential to create a stunning new regional leisure hub, bringing health, fitness, sport and outdoor activities to millions of people along with many new jobs.
“This leisure development would complement our existing world class sports venues up and down the 26-mile-long Regional Park, including our three hugely popular London 2012 legacy venues providing the best cycling, white water, hockey and tennis opportunities to be found anywhere.
“Lee Valley Leisure Complex was once a sewage works and rubbish dumps. A generation ago we built what was then Europe’s largest leisure centre. Now we hope to bring inland surfing here to create an outstanding new leisure destination for the capital and the region. This marks another exciting chapter in the history of the Lee Valley.”
Nick Hounsfield, Founder of The Wave, added: “Surfing is an incredible sport which has proven health benefits – both physically and mentally. The Wave London would give people the chance to try surfing and experience these benefits in an urban environment.
“Being in the water, catching waves, has the ability to change lives, whilst being so much fun! We want to create a space where people can have an amazing time by connecting with nature, each other and themselves. We know we can enhance this space, and encourage more people to get outside in nature and get active.
“We have already started to build The Wave Bristol. From the very beginning we have worked closely with local communities to ensure our project meets their needs and provides world-class surfing facilities for professionals and beginners alike.
“We look forward to working with local residents, organisations and partners in the same way to ensure The Wave London works for both them and visitors to the area.”
*Lee Valley Leisure Complex is home to Lee Valley Athletics Centre, which opened in 2007, the newly refurbished 12 screen Odeon Luxe Lee Valley and a wedding and events venue.
Lee Valley Golf Course and Lee Valley Camping and Caravan Park, Edmonton are also on the site and, if the scheme goes ahead, will close. LVRPA is already exploring opportunities with the London Borough of Enfield to provide alternative facilities for golfers. The site is designated as Green Belt and has been used for leisure since the 1970s.
*The Wave London will use Wavegarden’s Cove technology, which can generate up to 1000 quality waves per hour, with heights starting at 50cm and peaking at almost 2m (6.5ft), allowing people of all ages and abilities to experience the joy of surfing.
With the potential to host over 80 users at the same time, the Cove has six different surfing zones that offer waves of different size and power specifically designed to provide ideal conditions for everyone, from professionals to newcomers picking up a surfboard for the very first time.
Surfing is a fast growing sport – approximate 40 per cent increase in participation in the last two years.
Demand for surfing is high in London – estimated at 117,000 surfers.
In the UK it is estimated that there are approximately 650,000 regular surfers – over 2.5 million surfs a year.
Surfing will become an Olympic sport for the first time at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
*(Statistics from British Marine Association Annual Watersports Participation Survey).