Queuing to get into Urban Reef
It takes guts to stick your neck out and be brave in a regeneration scheme especially, as is often the case, when there is barrage of dissent coming from the naysayers. Gerardine and I recently returned to Boscombe to see how the Boscombe Overstand project was maturing. It was cool, showery end of summer day and yet the place was buzzing. The Overstrand was looking great, there were families on the balconies, queues to get into the Urban Reef cafe, the beach was hosting a volley ball tournament, and the sea alive with water sports. What is more it looks as if the artificial surf reef has been repaired and come the autumn will be something that surfers can enjoy and the naysayers can again gain valuable publicity for the town by repeating their idiotic “what a waste of taxpayers’ money” mantra.
Bournemouth Council should be applauded for allowing us to bring the wonderful mid-century Overstrand back to life (after being derelict for 17 years) and not backing down in the face of a barrage of cries to demolish it.
They should be applauded for believing in Boscombe and not cowering down to those that said this part of Bournemouth was a basket case and should come way down the priorities.
The Friends of Boscombe Pier who fought long and hard to get people to understand that there is value in a pier that didn’t fit the Victorian pier stereotype are being richly rewarded by seeing a sympathetically renovated mid-century pier that the public love.
The owner of The Urban Reef café is clearly being rewarded for investing in design.
Bournemouth Council’s brave and incredibly generous backing of the Europe’s only artificial surf reef must have given some many of those who supported the scheme many sleepless nights as some of the media, councillors and the public laid into them. As the reef didn’t perform as promised and then got damaged by a boat and the New Zealand engineers and installers went into liquidation it must have been a very tough time for all those involved. But the sector of the public who respond to bravery and respect those that stick their neck out flocked to Boscombe and were and are much more tolerant than the naysayers and lead thousands of folk back to those golden beaches.
Even if the reef just washed away, even if the Boscombe Overstand beach huts took 25 years to pay back the publicity generated by great design and positive risk taking and public sector generosity has yet again paid off. You can read more about the regeneration of Boscombe in The Guardian.