Researchers from Plymouth University will be investigating whether Boscombe surf reef provided value for money.

They will be surveying hoteliers, businessmen, and fishermen over the £3million project. The reef is damaged and faces an uncertain future.

Contractors have not been paid for the most recent work by builders ASR and are considering legal action.

The reef, opened in 2009, is the first of its kind in the northern hemisphere.

Emma Rendle, from the Marine and Coastal Policy research group (MarCoPol) at the University, said: “All the focus so far has been on the functionality of the reef.

“What we can now begin to consider is the socio-economic impact: can we quantify its benefits, and if so, do they outweigh the costs of construction?”

Businesses have credited the reef with kick starting the investment and regeneration in the flats and restaurants near Boscombe Pier.