Birmingham officials vote through England’s next wave pool
The UK is stoked. It has The Wave Bristol and Adventure Parc Snowdonia pumping out freshwater surf with five other locations set to turn on machines in upcoming years. Bournemouth, London, Edinburgh and Milton Keynes are all vying to be the next UK surf spot. But today, Birmingham took a huge leap forward after a unanimous vote in favor of the Emerge Surf Birmingham project passed. All 15 voting members of the North Warwickshire Borough Council’s Planning and Development Board OK’d the planning application for the 15-acre site.
Emerge Surf was initially unveiled in 2019 and includes a full-size 5.4-acre Wavegarden Cove with the full variety of settings a surf school, surf shop, café and restaurant, multi-purpose fitness studio, physio and massage room and children’s play area.
“Our aim with Emerge Surf is to bring a slice of the ocean to Birmingham, creating a haven for landlocked surfers and those wanting to try the sport for the first time,” said Steve Price, founder and CEO of Emerge Surf. “I’m thrilled to see such resounding backing from North Warwickshire Borough Council, recognizing our vision and being minded to support the project. We’re excited to enter the next phase in our plan to deliver a wave park that will be a huge asset to the region and its already renowned visitor economy.”
The project also boasted the site will have an outdoor heated swimming pool, hub building and a perimeter track for Onewheel electric skateboards. According to the press release it will also “create 100 full-time equivalent jobs, attract around 250,000 visitors a year and deliver an estimated annual economic boost of between £18 million – £21 million to the region.”
To many Americans, Birmingham is known as that town from that one Sex Pistols song. To Brits, it’s the second-largest city in the country with 1.1 million residents, more miles of canals than Venice and home to Europe’s most extensive public library.
With the closest surf-able ocean waves nearly 100 miles away, this new facility continues the trend to make surfing accessible to the ocean-less masses. The location is situated in North Warwickshire with more than 7.6 million people within a one hour drive of the venue and 27 million potential surfers within two hours. It is also close to Birmingham Airport and Birmingham International Railway Station.
“Our company is founded on the aspiration to share the exhilarating feeling of riding great waves with everyone, regardless of their location,” said Fernando Odriozola, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Wavegarden. “Surfing is an incredibly rewarding and beneficial sport for people of all ages and abilities, and we are absolutely delighted that Birmingham, the UK’s second city, will soon give people access to our waves and the Wavegarden experience.”
The park is also partnering with The Wave Project to deliver therapy through surfing to local children suffering from mental health issues. World Surf League Big Wave World Champion Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker is an ambassador for Emerge Surf, alongside top UK professional surfers Peony Knight and Luke Dillon. Olympic gold medallist Tessa Sanderson CBE is the park’s non-surfing ambassador. The expected completion is 2022.
Selfridges building in Birmingham. Photo by Sarah Doffman