HOW much more can go wrong?

That’s the question being asked as the Boscombe surf reef project is hit by yet another massive blow.

With the surf reef itself already overdue and over-budget, councillors have now been told that the cost of regenerating Boscombe’s Overstrand building will be significantly higher than thought.

The exact cost will not be revealed until January but is thought to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The derelict Overstrand building is set to be converted into luxury beach huts or “surf pods”, an “Urban Reef” restaurant and cafe, “Sorted” surf shop and surf school.

But the building is in a far worse state of disrepair than originally thought and will be costly to refurbish.

In an update to councillors, executive director Tony Williams said: “Recent work on the building has uncovered some unexpected structural deficiencies. The state of the structure behind the façade is much worse than anticipated.

“Remedial and additional restorative work is required, including repairs to tiles, the copper roof and expansion joints. This carries with it an additional cost.

“Although the extent of the additional work cannot be fully determined at this stage, the construction estimates and income projections confirm that the costs should be fully funded from the sale of some of the new surf pods.”

And there is further bad news to do with the surf reef. The delays to the project mean the council needs to spend more money on replacing the sand they expect to lose over the winter.

Mr Williams said there was “every indication” that capital receipts would cover these costs so they would not fall on council taxpayers.

But Labour leader Cllr Ben Grower said this was simply not true. “It’s still council taxpayers’ money, no matter where they get it from,” he said.

And Conservative councillor Basil Ratcliffe said: “I’m horrified at the way these things have not been properly looked into in the first place.

“It’s sad because the whole idea was good but now it has been spoiled by all these problems.”

But Mr Williams said he was still confident the beleaguered project would have a “successful outcome”.

He said economic benefits were already being felt from the regeneration project and three local businesses had won lucrative contracts to operate retail and catering outlets.