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Unveiled: The huge £75m water park and spa that will 'put Dorset on the map'


THE businessman behind plans for a £75m aqua park and spa between Bournemouth and Christchurch has outlined his vision for a scheme he believes will attract worldwide attention.

Costa Acodrinesei of Elysium Water Park UK says there is nothing like it in this country and that it will put 'Dorset on the map'.

He says the "year round, weather-independent destination attraction" would match stunning water park venues in Germany, Romania, Tenerife, the US and Dubai.

He added: "This is something very spectacular, it's a very big vision but I know we can do it.

"I want it to be something for the whole community and for everyone to get behind it."

The Elysium project would combine a huge tropical indoor park and an outdoor park.

Part of the site at Hurn near Bournemouth Airport could also be a lagoon surf park although this proposal is being worked up by a different company, Adventure Out There 365 Ltd.

There could also be eco lodges and a hotel.

The scheme would create up to 500 jobs, it is claimed.

The land, which lies within Christchurch, belongs to the Malmesbury Estate on the south side of Parley Lane and the footprint of the scheme including car parks could be as much as 75 acres.

Mr Acodrinesei, who was born in Romania and has Greek heritage, says the park would appeal to the widest possible audience and could attract 4,000 visitors a day.

Annually, it might be anything between 576,000 and 923,000.

He said the park would be a destination in itself and complementary to the attractions of Bournemouth as the country's premier resort.

And in his view there was an increasing trend for UK residents to holiday at home, something that adds to the long-term value of the scheme to the local economy.

He said the scheme had a huge environmental dimension on the lines of the Therme Bucharest park which has 500 palm trees, 3,000 exotic shrubs and 800,000 tropical plants.

Other existing 'benchmark' parks include Atlantis Adventure Dubai, Tropical Islands Germany and Terme Olimia in Slovenia.

Mr Acodrinesei describes the indoor park as looking "like something out of Indiana Jones".

At a glance: What is proposed for the Elysium Water Park?

But the proposal faces significant hurdles.

The proposed area is in the green belt and near a site of special scientific interest.

The initial finance has not yet been raised although a number of significant investors are said to be considering the project including a major bank.

A business plan is not yet in place.

The scheme does not have planning consent and Mr Acodrinesei has not yet been able to make a formal presentation to BCP councillors.

There was a meeting earlier in the year with the executive director of the old Bournemouth council, Bill Cotton and Conservative cabinet member Philip Broadhead, who is now an opposition member.

Since then, BCP has been formed with the multi-party Unity Alliance in control.

Another major obstacle is the infrastructure around Hurn, already hugely congested on a daily basis.

It's unlikely the scheme would be given the go-ahead without major road improvements in place first and it isn't clear where the money for this would come from.

To complicate the traffic issue, there are major expansion plans for the airport's business parks and 400 homes are set to be built on green belt at Parley.

But the chief executive of Wessex Entrepreneurs, former Lloyds senior bank executive Tony Williams is working on raising the initial finance for the park.

"There are some significant people looking at this," he said.

Mr Williams said the plan was to resurrect the team behind the Jurassica project.

And he said he hoped to get the buy in of the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership and the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The scheme had a proven business model, he added.

The project's 'Investment opportunity' document says "with easy road access for a potential market of over 11 million people, main line rail service from London and of course neighbouring Bournemouth International Airport, the location could not be better".

It says the mooted Lagoon Surf Park, on part of the site, together with "a varied accommodation offer including eco lodges and a family hotel, all located within a short distance of Bournemouth's internationally renowned beaches, Poole's stunning natural harbour and historic Christchurch" will make "an ideal short break destination".

Source: Dorset Echo