A 250-metre beach and surf resort with hotel accommodation, restaurants and a spa is to be developed at the Merseyside coastal town, under a deal struck between Sefton Council and a UK-based leisure provider.
The council has entered into an exclusivity agreement with Go Surf to create Southport Cove Resort, an all-year-round attraction centred around a surf wave pool and a sizeable beach on the town’s seafront. The site earmarked for the development is understood to be at Princes Park, on a council-owned land adjacent to the former Southport Bathing Lake, which closed in the 1980s.
The £40m scheme would feature “water-based” wellness and spa facilities, four-star hotel accommodation, casual dining including a range of cafes and restaurants and indoor leisure facilities. There would also be gardens and a 360-degree boardwalk for visitors to explore the attraction and watch surfers.
Go Surf offers surf pool technology to manufacture waves ranging in height from 0.5m ‘fun’ waves’ to more challenging 2m waves, according to Sefton Council.
Southport Cove is projected to bring in £2m of annual revenues to Southport, with around 150,000 visitors each year. The project would “complement other exciting opportunities emerging in the town, as part of the Southport Town Deal and other initiatives”, the council said.
Sefton ran a consultation in July on its vision to develop Southport over the years to 2050. The proposals outlined in the strategy included the possible development of a “marine village” on brownfield sites around the Marine Lake.
To support its proposals, the council is preparing to submit a bid for £25m from the Government’s Town Deal fund on Friday, which it is understood would help to fund the development of Southport Cove.
Cllr Marion Atkinson, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration and skills, said: “Many people will remember that in 1989 the much-loved open-air swimming bath on the seafront next to Princes Park closed its doors to the public for the last time.
“When we were doing the consultation around the Southport Town Deal, it was clear that many people still had memories of the lido. This project will, in many ways, bring back a viable facility with all-year-round visitor appeal, and strike a balance between the memory of this loved former attraction and a modern, family-oriented offer that will be unique to the region.”
Go Surf said in a statement: “Southport’s location and existing facilities lend themselves perfectly to the town becoming a true haven for watersports, indoor and outdoor attractions, and wellness. The town benefits greatly from the successful integration of its town centre, marine lake and seafront.
“We’re taking a world-class surf pool and building a resort around it that’s far more than a place for catching waves. Our aim is to create an environment where people meet with friends and family, to lounge on the beach or in the gardens, catch some waves, relax in the spa, or just grab a coffee and a bite to eat.”
The project is currently in the pre-planning stage and Sefton Council intends to launch a public consultation on the proposal before a planning application is submitted.