A COUNCIL has awarded developers £70,000 to draw up a lagoon ‘water park’ planning application.

The scheme proposed for green belt land at Hurn is the idea of Bournemouth-based developer Adventure Is Out There 365, and is separate to the Elysium waterpark previously proposed for the area – which is seeking an alternative site.

But the site, opposite the airport, is identified in BCP’s issues and options document for the draft local plan as likely to be suitable for development 'only in exceptional circumstances'.

The £70k has been given under the Bounceback Challenge Fund – part of £3 million distributed under the scheme.

The company’s application said it is seeking to "develop and enhance the leisure, adventure, sport and recreation offering to and for the BCP community, attract employment, work closely with local suppliers and educators and create a unique eco-friendly environment".

However, the award has not gone without criticism.

Hurn ward councillor Margaret Phipps said the awarding of this grant “just doesn’t sit right with me".

"How could such a project meet the deliverability criteria with such enormous issues to overcome?

“The roads are already over congested. Also, it is proposed on a parcel of green belt land deemed high value in the council’s own green belt study, right alongside a conservation area and listed buildings.

“I am shocked that the council has allocated £70,000 funding to assist with a planning application."

Cllr Phipps added: “It seems like a slap in the face for other existing businesses which have to fund their own applications but will unlock much quicker employment opportunities and economic return for the local area."

To get the money, the company had to satisfy the council that the project would help the economy, generate pride in place, be innovative and deliverable.

Negotiations began with the former Bournemouth Borough Council in 2018.

The local plan issues and options document which will go out for consultation in the next few weeks identifies constraints on the site as a high level of harm to the green belt, being next to a conservation area and near listed buildings.

It adds: “The area is also sensitive due to proximity to protected Dorset heathland, Moors River SSSI, the Hurn heritage conservation area, quiet walking routes on existing lanes and Bournemouth airport area.”

The draft document says ‘exceptional circumstances’ would have to be demonstrated for the area to be considered for development.

The publication is the next stage of public consultation on a new local plan for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

Council deputy leader Councillor Philip Broadhead said: “Since the start of the pandemic, we have supported local businesses with close to £150 million in statutory and discretionary grants.

“We asked local businesses to come up with innovative projects and proposals to help them, and the community as whole, emerge from the pandemic even stronger than before.”

He said the grant award “does not prejudice the outcome of any future applications".

“Over 300 applications were received as part of our Bounce Back Challenge Fund, with £3 million awarded to help bring to life over 100 projects.

“Following the competitive application process, we were pleased to award a grant to The Lagoon Project. Funding will help them to engage with the local community, share their vision and apply for the necessary permissions.’’

The Echo has asked BCP Council for a full list of the grants.