How the new site could look
Mike Hughes finds out about a £10m plan to help make surfing our next big Olympic winner
In a quarry 11 miles out of Edinburgh, something very special is happening… surfing.
They might not seem like a natural match, but the disused roadstone quarry has just taken a huge leap towards becoming one of the region’s biggest tourist attractions – and a huge boost for our hopes of gold at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Wavegarden Scotland, the company which hopes to develop the country’s first artificial wave park, submitted its planning application yesterday after receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from public consultation events held earlier this year. If that gets the nod, the £10mfacility could be open by 2019, well in time for training for Tokyo.
The company wants to redevelop Craigpark Quarry near Ratho into a 23 hectare word-class surf and leisure facility offering a variety of water sports on its man-made loch. Alongside will be 111 luxury homes, starting at around £500,000 and with enviable views and facilities on their doorsteps.
Andy Hadden, co-founder of Wavegarden Scotland told BQ: “We had looked originally at a site in East Lothian a few years ago but we came to the conclusion that we needed to be nearer chimneypots and populations.
“We did a lot of talking with leisure facilities and we saw this patch if land that’s absolutely bang in the heart of Scotland and perfect for what we had planned, with transport links to the airport and the fact that the old quarry is a natural amphitheatre and was already going to be a country park.
“As a surfer myself it was a bit of a fantasy when this sort of thing was proposed 10 or 20 years ago – and if you walked into a bar and tried to explain it you might get a few funny looks - but we had to wait until there was a business case that made it financially sustainable. “This is privately financed, so we can’t go throwing money at something, we have to be very measured in our approach, but we’re cautiously optimistic that our years of research, consultation and planning will pay off.
“We believe our facility will enhance Ratho as an international destination for adventure sports, and we’re delighted that we have the chance to deliver the project in a brownfield site.”
Wavegarden Scotland will be an ecologically responsible and diverse space for the surrounding communities and visiting public, with a large country park for walkers, runners and cyclists to enjoy. The proposal details how the former quarry site has guided the design, with extensive re-use of onsite materials and stone to capitalise on the natural character of the site, while carefully considered plant and landscaping choices will help restore the area's original ecology which was lost during the former quarry's operations.
The science Andy and his colleagues will be using is as remarkable as the park’s location. Wave generation technology called The Cove will be able to generate more than 1,000 perfect waves every hour, from the otherwise still waters, to keep the most demanding families and medal winners happy. The site can’t compete with the ocean, but while the sea conditions aren’t always right at the right time, Wavepark will be.
Co-founder Scott Brewster, whose family owned the land, said: “The high-performance offering of the facility will cater for a number of different sports and we hope that Wavegarden Scotland will help future generations of water sportsmen and women take their skills to the next level.
“Edinburgh is already a fantastic tourism destination, and as staycations get more popular and major sports are on the rise, we are providing more of that commercial infrastructure in a very enticing location. The economic boost that will follow will start at about £8.9m annually, and we aspire to help the people, the area and Scottish sport.”
BQ also talked to Mark Boyd, captain of Scotland's national surfing team, who said: "It is definitely going to change the game in Scotland. We generally don’t get many waves here, so this will introduce a lot of new people to the sport and make it a very exciting time for surfing.
“As far as performance development goes, this will drive standards through the roof, just as has been happening with snowboarding and the facilities that now has.
“Scottish surfing is growing and becoming more and more competitive on the world stage and we have proven we can make heats on the world stage in previous World and European Championships and at this year’s ISA World Games in Biarritz.”
Located beside the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, Wavegarden Scotland’s proposal also includes self-catering luxury lodges, glamping pods, a waterfront café and restaurant, retail spaces, zip line, water tubing area, snow-sports area, and a car park.
The overall design will develop existing integrated transportation and leisure links, including with the nearby canal network, into the heart of Edinburgh as well as the wider central belt.
The wave park has been masterplanned and designed by landscape architects HarrisonStevens, with engineering and technical consultation provided by WSP, and planning and development advice by Colliers International.