Objective One funding for international surfing centre at Fistral
An Objective One project to build a £1.8 million surfing centre at Fistral Beach has been heralded as the first step in a £20 million programme to breathe new life into Newquay.
The high-profile scheme will also act as a prime example of how Cornwall's private sector can work alongside the public sector to develop a project with major benefits for all involved.
The Fistral Beach International Surfing Centre project will see a range of high-quality facilities built by next summer and involves the borough council, surfing organisations, education bodies and private business joining forces to enhance the beach's already high reputation among surfers and other beach users.
The new Fistral Surf/Training Centre and other beach facilities should create 25 jobs and bring in an extra 15,000 visitors and another five international events and competitions each year.
The leader of Restormel Borough Council, John Weller, said: "I can't underestimate the importance of this project. I see it as pulling together the start of Newquay's regeneration.
"This project opens the gates to everything that follows - on the back of this rests about £20 million of other projects for Newquay.”
Among the other projects in the pipeline is the proposed creation of a new town square, which will act as a major catalyst for further environmental enhancements in the town.
Other ideas put forward include a proposal to build a new offshore reef for England's surf capital. It is hoped an initial feasibility study into the economic and environmental impact of the artificial reef will be followed by a £200,000 design study - and finally the nine-month, £800,000 construction phase that will create an underwater ridge generating better and more reliable surfing waves, as well as a new marine habitat.
Mr Weller stressed that the Fistral project was not just aimed at surfers. He said: "We will also be providing disabled access to the beach, showers and facilities for families and all beach users."
Britanic Industries, which already manage a number of beaches in the Newquay area, has been selected as the private firm to take forward the project.
Nick Briant of Britanic said: "Fistral is one of Europe's premier surfing beaches and this will bring it up to the standard of anywhere in Europe."
He added: "This is an excellent example of private-public partnership. This is an opportunity to maximise Fistral's potential and recognise its importance to the international surfing competition circuit, as well as offering the best facilities to all beach users and opening it up to even more people."
Britanic developed the project in partnership with E Thomas Construction and with the support of Restormel Borough Council and Cornwall County Council. Local firms have also been appointed to develop individual stages of the project.
David Pooley of Pooleys Chartered Accountants said: "This project shows the private-public partnership working. It proves that Objective One is available and that it's important that people do keep working at it."
Steve McTeare of Truro-based WCA Chartered Surveyors added: "There have been a lot of hurdles to overcome but they have all been dealt with through the commitment of the consortium partners."
The partners hope that work on the new facilities should begin before Christmas. The main centre will be built on the site of the existing facilities at North Fistral, and house a tourist information centre, surf history museum, quality restaurant, crèche, hire centre, beach café, toilets and changing rooms.
The building will be used by organisations like the British Surfing Association and Fistral's lifeguards. Its facilities will be open year-round and used for competitions, offices and high-quality training - provided by organisations such as the University of Plymouth and Cornwall College.
The surf centre will also be available to local community groups, as well as tourists, training organisations and other beach users. The project will eventually replace the existing facilities at South Fistral with a more modern building, containing toilets, a café and a lifeguard station.
The news was welcomed by the surfing community. Barry Kalshoven from Newquay-based surfing magazine Wavelength, said Fistral could definitely benefit from better facilities.
He said: "Newquay is the number one surf town in England and Fistral is the best surf break in Newquay. People from all over country come to Newquay for the surfing, a lot of them because of the big international surfing events that are already held at Fistral.
"But Fistral doesn't have the atmosphere and facilities of some other beaches, like Watergate Bay, which attracts so many people because it has somewhere to get a drink and something to eat. If Fistral had a nice area to hang out for a coffee it would definitely attract more people to go there more often."
He added: "It would also attract a lot more people out of the summer season. Surfing is still there all year round but at the moment the facilities aren't."
The Objective One support for the project will come in the shape of a £531,000 grant from the European Regional Development Fund. Restormel are contributing £350,000 and Cornwall County Council £100,000. The remaining sum will come from the private sector.
The project was endorsed through the Objective One programme because of its focus on promoting Cornwall as a major surfing centre, its ability to attract the youth market and provision of high quality public infrastructure.
It is estimated that the new centre will generate extra income for the town of over £450,000 a year.
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD