Everybody's gone surfin'

Jamie Oliver is the latest Londoner to fall in love with Watergate Bay, Cornwall, where new homes are luring surf fans from the capital
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Surfing is what Cornwall does best. And with gym visits a regular ritual for many young Londoners, an action-packed wave-chasing holiday has high appeal - even in a wet summer: this is a sport that needs no rays to warm it up.

Pack a wetsuit and you are guaranteed an exhilarating experience no matter what the Cornish weather has to offer; what’s more, surfing is eco-friendly: the only energy you’ll burn is your own.

Watergate Bay, just north of Newquay on the Cornish Atlantic coast, has three miles of golden beach and year-round waves.

It is one of the country’s top surfing destinations, with the famous Extreme Academy surf school on the beach. This is where the ITV1 soap Echo Beach was filmed along with its sister show Moving Wallpaper.

Surfing has transformed this area, turning it from a weary post-war family holiday destination into a property hotspot luring sports enthusiasts who want to buy a home for year-round breaks.

To cater for their needs, new-build schemes are rising along the coast from Watergate to Newquay and beyond. One hotel re-emerging as a modern property complex takes the name of the beach it overlooks - Watergate Bay.

During the past seven years, the hotel has renewed itself as a smart, family-friendly venue with good food - Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall is one of its restaurants. Now the hotel’s owners are going a step further, offering guests a more permanent stay. They are replacing the hotel’s former sports hall with 27 new two-storey, two-bathroom, semi-detached, eco- friendly homes for sale.

Houses and flats to rent in Newquay
Houses and flats for sale in Newquay

Eco homes that put the sun to work


Designed by Plymouth-based architects Design Group, these novel homes will have solar panels for heating water, while a clever arrangement of glass walls will allow the interiors to be sheltered from the sun on the hottest days but warmed by sunlight through the winter.

Eco homes are to be built at Watergate Bay
From £600,000: eco homes are to be built on the site of the former sports hall at Watergate Bay Hotel
Materials will be locally sourced and will blend traditional and contemporary. Cornish stone hedges, slate and granite, will feature, as will Cornish cedar cladding, with grass roofs to provide insulation.

Built into the side of a hill, the lower floors of the homes will be half submerged to ensure shelter; these floors will contain the bedrooms and “passive solar collectors” will both gather heat when it is needed and cool down rooms when temperatures rise.

The living accommodation will be upstairs, taking in the views over the bay to the ocean. Construction starts in September with completion due in late summer 2010. For a 1,050sq ft version, with a balcony, prices are expected to start at £600,000.

However, there are three options for buyers, who can either purchase the freehold; chose a stay-and-let investment (where they buy at a reduced price and, in return for restricted use, get a guaranteed return from rental income); or buy a fractional part of a villa, with a guaranteed five weeks annual use. For more information, email (will@watergatebay.co.uk).

The development is being built as tourist holiday accommodation - owners will be unable to live there for more than 10 months a year. Most are expected to be bought by Londoners looking for a weekend getaway and an investment.

Oxford graduate Will Ashworth, 33, returned to his family’s hotel after gaining experience working in the US. He has a passion for surfing and aims to turn Watergate Bay into a year-round surfing destination, with a spa complex, which will be launched alongside the new eco homes.

* On 26 July, the hotel will host a one-day White Stuff Surf Relief music festival on the beach, headlined by the Stereo MCs, and on 9 September holds its second annual Polo on the Beach event.

Houses and flats to rent in Newquay
Houses and flats for sale in Newquay

Tolcarne, in Newquay
From £164,000: "surf pods" in Newquay's Tolcarne scheme. Call 01637 850500

Newquay for ‘surf pods’ and more


In Newquay, many of the resort’s old-fashioned B&Bs are being replaced by blocks boasting “surf pods” - small studios and one-bedroom flats aimed at young wave hunters.

Tolcarne is a new innovative development, offering a choice of one- and two-bedroom apartments skillfully designed and with stunning views. There will be 75 hotel apartment units on the seafront at Newquay when the scheme is finished in 2010.

The units are sensibly priced for long-term investment and letting, with flats from £164,000. For further details contact Stuart Shield at Bradley Estate Agents, Newquay (01637 850500).

* Surfers can fly from London to Newquay for about £100 return on BA’s service from Gatwick, launched last year www.ba.com.

Houses and flats to rent in Newquay
Houses and flats for sale in Newquay

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