CONTROVERSIAL plans for a surf lagoon have been approved on appeal – but the council is now refusing to offer up some of the land.

Dorset Council said it will not offer Avon Heath Country Park for inclusion within the proposed scheme off the A31 in St Leonards.

W. H. White submitted a planning application in November 2021 for a man-made surf lagoon and extension to Avon Heath Country Park incorporating a new visitor centre, café, and day nursery.

The developer launched an appeal when the application was not determined by Dorset Council in the statutory period.

The decision to submit an appeal came 18 months after the application was first submitted, during which time W. H. White adapted its plans in response to comments made by Dorset Council and consultees.

This included the removal of a proposed glamping site, a skate park and cycle park.

On February 19, a planning inspectorate ruled that planning permission should be granted for the major development.

Back in 2021, Dorset Council had agreed not to oppose any investigations by the developer, allowing the proposals to be developed and presented to the public.

However, the council has said due to “changing circumstances”, it will now not be offering its land at Avon Heath Country Park.

A spokesperson for the local authority said: “Circumstances over the past few years have changed significantly for both the Council and the park itself, which continues to perform well.

“At this moment in time, it is our view that Avon Heath Country Park does not need this development, and therefore we are no longer able to engage in further discussions with W. H. White Ltd regarding the land we own there.

“We wish W. H. White Ltd all the best in their future endeavours.”

The development plans have been hounded with objections since they were first submitted, with residents even starting a group called 'The Surf Reef Opposition Group’. 

Despite this, a public engagement event revealed 62 per cent of respondents supported the plans.