Major plans for new aqua park next to Suffolk Food Hall revealed
PUBLISHED: 05:30 17 December 2019 | UPDATED: 06:38 17 December 2019
CURVE WATER SPORTS
Major proposals have been unveiled for a brand new water park near the Orwell Bridge – complete with its own lake.
If approved, the plans would see a new aqua sports centre built opposite Suffolk Food Hall in Wherstead.
It would be a completely new development, and is not connected to Aqua Park Suffolk which opened and then closed at Alton Water.
What is planned for the site?
A joint venture between the food hall and Curve Water Sports - which currently runs a similar park in St Osyth - the attraction would be centred in a newly-built 65m x 32m lake.
The park would be open from May to October, three to four days a week during early season and peaking at seven days in August.
Access to the park would be via the existing food hall car park, creating a total of 54 new spaces, including an ambulance bay.
A reception, wetsuit supply, changing room and coffee booth will also be built alongside seating and viewing areas.
Run by brothers Jake, 27, and Joe, 24, alongside mum Clare, the business behind the new park aims to hire around 30 members of staff, including lifeguards.
What attractions will the aqua park feature?
The park will include various obstacles and challenges to test its customers.
The majority of the obstacles will stand between one and three metres above the water, except for the peak height of five minutes for the slide at the edge of the course. It will also include a large trampoline and balance beams.
Owner Jake Moore said: "The aqua park will be great for families as something to do while helping people get confident in the water in a safe and secure environment."
The site has a design capacity of a maximum of 80 guests per hour. On August bank holiday this year, the St Oysth Park hosted 270 guests between 10am and 5pm.
What about Aqua Park Suffolk?
The plans follow the collapse of nearby Aqua Park Suffolk, which owed more than £270,000 to creditors at the time of its liquidation in August, which included £38,000 in customer deposits.
Its collapse came after the discovery of poisonous blue-green algae this summer, for the second year in a row.
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As a gesture of goodwill, Mr Moore hopes to offer discounts to customers who did not receive a refund.
As of November, many - including Alde Valley Academy in Leiston - were yet to have received their refunds. Mr Moore hopes to offer the school a free experience day next year.
What do planners have to say about it?
Mr Moore, a former professional kitesurfer who has worked in the leisure industry for more than 11 years, said he hopes the park will expand on tourism.
He added: "We want to expand the business and have been looking for a new location for a while - the site is great as it will bring more people from the county to the food hall and other local businesses.
"We are a family-run business that has proven itself - this is a huge investment for us and we want people to know that we know what we are doing."
Oliver Paul, owner of Suffolk Food Hall, said: "Jake is quite the entrepreneur who has proven the value of his business in St Osyth.
"The food hall is delighted to help expand new businesses - as well as for our food offering we have established ourselves as a real leisure destination in the county and the aqua park will only further this."
Mr Moore added he hopes - if successful in his application, to have the park operating by May 2020.
What about the algae problem?
Mr Moore and Mr Paul hope that with a smaller lake planned for the site, algae will be much easier to control.
Not being a freshwater reservoir intended for drinking water, Mr Moore said there are greater options available to control the issue.
Possible fixes include the use of barley straw in the water or the use of non-toxic chemicals to prevent UV rays entering the water - which in turn prevents algae growth.
After three years trading in St Osyth, Curve claim to have never encountered the issue.
Mr Moore said: "We want to reassure the public it is not going to happen. If you look at other parks which are based on similar sized lakes, they do not have a problem with the algae."
The land - which Mr Paul said is no longer suitable for farming following the construction of the Orwell Bridge - falls under the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Environmental health and Suffolk County Council's waste department have not objected the proposals, on the condition minerals extracted are not exported from the site without further permission.
The proposals are due to go before Babergh District Council's planning committee in due course.
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