West Norfolk Water Sports plan for Bawsey Pits

Proposed West Norfolk Watersports at Bawsey Lakes - Bob White with Helen Page. ANL-140415-173258001
Proposed West Norfolk Watersports at Bawsey Lakes - Bob White with Helen Page. ANL-140415-173258001

A businessman is hoping he has the answer for the future of Bawsey Pits - by setting up a water activity centre.

West Norfolk Water Sports director Bob White wants to see people canoeing and sailing on the lakes before enjoying the 170 acre country park and staying in log cabins.

Site owners Sibelco are currently running a public consultation on what the future of the pits should involve following last year’s double tragedy.

Ryan Pettengell, 41, of Railway Road, Lynn, and 16-year-old Umar Balogun died at the site in July last year.

Swimming is banned and the car park is closed since the incident but the park has remained open.

But Mr White is hoping to prevent future tragedies by providing safe bathing areas.

He said: “People would be swimming in an area deemed to be safe. We would survey the bottom and have it so everyone is in a relatively controlled area with life guards there to offer assistance if needed.

“It would still be free swimming but more controlled.

“We are in the process of the public consultation and if enough people want water sports, we would be looking to develop the site.”

Mr White has held talks with Sibelco but his plans hinge on the outcome of the public consultation.

If the plans go ahead, Mr White would like to offer water sports such as kayaking, canoeing and sailing along with water skiing and paddle boarding.

Mr White’s long term plan would include installing log cabins for families and college or school parties for adventure holidays.

He said: “I still want to keep it open to the public for people to be able to come to Bawsey and not necessarily pay anything to enjoy it.

“We would like to make money but offer the site for the general public to come and enjoy as it is a great asset for Lynn.”

Mr White also feels that a presence at the country park would help curb other problems.

He said: “Hopefully our presence there would stop anti-social behaviour and damage to the site.

“I spoke to the groundsman who looks after Bawsey and he side and he said the shortest time a sign was removed from the site was 12 hours.”

Sibelco says it has been approached by several people with ideas and would welcome more.

The company, which is required by planning law to keep the site open to the public, launched the consultation on March 28.

A spokesman said: “So far the firm is really happy with the level of responses from the questionnaire. To date, we have received almost 400 completed questionnaires.

“We would still welcome many more as we have said all along we really what the public to drive this programme of change forward.

“As we said originally, we have no fixed ideas about the future. We will very much listen to what other people have to say and as soon as we have chance to evaluate the responses after the closing date, we will come back to the public.”

The closing date is April 30. Go to www.surveymonkey.com/The_Future_of_Bawsey_Lakes or write to Nicola Cole, Brookside Hall, Sandbach, Cheshire, CW11 4TF.