Official plans for a £50 million development offering Kent’s first surfing “wave lagoon” and a five-star spa hotel are now being considered by council officers.
Separate applications have been submitted to Dover District Council to build the eye-catching attractions within the wider 250-acre Betteshanger Country Park in Deal.
Both are designed by award-winning architect Guy Hollaway.
The main draw would be a “surfing-based leisure facility” dubbed The Seahive, which would include an artificially created wave pool to simulate the sport inland.
It would be only the second of its kind in England.
Also created would be a “Lagoon Surf Hub” offering a cafe, restaurant and training facilities, and a “Learning Hive” providing “surf therapy” to young people at risk of mental ill-health.
Alongside these would be a dry-land surfing practise area for beginners, small water pools, a skate and BMX track with slopes shaped like waves, and a flat skate park for under-sevens to ride bikes, scooters and skateboards.
Developers say the wave lagoon “draws inspiration from some of the world’s best surf locations by creating a relaxed natural environment for both surfers and spectators”.
They add: “A facility such as the Wave Lagoon provides one of the safest places to introduce and teach surfing to the general public - especially children, those with less mobility and people who are less confident in sea-wave environments.”
The wave lagoon will have a capacity for 90 surfers at any one time.
Fifteen holiday lodges on the site - sleeping up to eight people each - would provide accommodation to visitors, who would be able to enjoy a wellness centre equipped with a yoga studio and gym.
Guests could instead choose to stay in a 120-room luxury spa hotel proposed as part of a separate application for the country park.
That development would include a gym, restaurant/bar and parking.
One of the first members of the public commenting on the scheme, through the DDC planning portal, was Ms G. Jones.
She focused on the hotel application and said: “I would support anything that brings employment to the Deal area.
“It would encourage tourism in the Deal and Sandwich area and also overnight stays to do with the country park.
"It would benefit other businesses in the town.
“I hope this is approved and is actually built.”
Another comment of support came from Tim Ingleton, who is now retired as DDC’s head of inward investment.
He said: “The need for such benefits now achieves even greater significance as the district recovers from the impacts of the pandemic and readies itself to weather the current economic challenges.
“Aside from the obvious day-to-day benefits, I am also conscious that a hotel of the stature proposed will support the golf sector in the east Kent area.
"In particular, the golf courses in the Dover district, which have a historic and continuing affinity with the Open Championship and attract national and international patrons and visitors.
“The benefits to the Dover area are currently suppressed by the lack of top-quality hotel accommodation in close proximity to the golf courses.”
Stuart O’Leary, the head of Betteshanger Country Park, said: “We are really excited to have submitted our application for what we believe will become an incredibly important part of the Dover district and Kent’s tourism offer.
“Subject to planning consent, we hope to commence construction in the second quarter of 2023.”
The overall Betteshanger Country Park takes the place of the former Betteshanger Colliery, which closed in 1989 as the last Kent pit.