BOSCOMBE’S failed surf reef could take on a new life as a haven for marine creatures if a planned initiative is given the green light.

In what could be a first for the UK, eco-artist and marine conservation advocate Celia Gregory, hopes to transform the site into an artificial reef and underwater art installation.

Although the artist, who is behind similar projects in Indonesia, said the plans are at the “earliest of stages”, studies by colleagues at Southampton University show the reef is attracting a range of new aquatic life already.

Celia said: “The reef hasn’t fulfilled its original purpose, but it might yet take on a new one.

“A colleague who studies marine life has evidence that the reef seems to be attracting new species. The aim really is to turn something unsuccessful into something that is very successful for a different reason.”

The failed £3million reef has been closed since the spring of 2011 after one of the sand bags deflated.

However, a year later, aerial photographs taken from a helicopter seemed to show that several of the bags have partially or completely deflated as well.

In April this year, the Daily Echo revealed that the man behind the disastrous project, ASR director Nick Behunin, has “disappeared” after the company went into liquidation.

See all our stories on the surf reef, background, an interative timeline and videos at

Celia said: “We are really at the earliest stages of this, but the idea really would be to give this site a new aim.

“There’s a possibility that it could become a snorkelling or Scuba diving attraction as a result, and that would bring a whole new life to the area.”

Dr Ken Collins, a senior research fellow and diving officer in ocean and earth science at the University of Southampton, said: “We can accept the surf reef isn’t going to be any good for surfing, but if you were to put some interesting objects with some height and holes in them nearby, it can become an artificial reef instead.”

He said swimmers are already able to sit on the sandbags, adding: “It would be very accessible for snorkelers.”