SOUTHEND'S seafront lagoon has finally opened, ensuring visitors can take a dip even when the tide is out.

More than 14,000 tonnes of granite rock mark out the new football pitch-sized lagoon, and it is hoped that the new facility will provide another popular destination for our many visitors and residents too.

Sheets of welded metal inside the rock walls retain the seawater when the tide comes in, whilst rubber material at the base of the wall will prevent silt and mud from entering and exiting the lagoon.

Valves have been installed into the wall so that the lagoon can be emptied and refilled, ensuring a high quality of regularly-replenished bathing water. The lagoon will be 1.1 metres at its deepest.

Ann Holland, councillor responsible for culture, tourism and the economy, said: “We are excited that this great new facility has opened and in time for the school holidays. It was wonderful to officially open the lagoon today with many of those involved in the project, and to see so children and families enjoying it straight away.

“Southend is booming and these types of projects are vital to further boost and regenerate our seafront, support our tourism industry, and encourage more and more visitors, businesses and private investment into the borough. I think everyone involved, including the council, should be very proud of working together to deliver this project.”

Andrew Percy, Coastal Communities Minister said: “I’m pleased that thanks to our £1.2million investment, Southend has a new lagoon to help reel in the tourists for years to come.

“It’s further proof that our great British coast has sightseeing gems that are a match for anywhere in the world, and I’d urge people to take a trip down to the seaside to discover them.”

Stockvale Group are key partners in the project and Marc Miller, managing director, said: “The Stockvale Group is delighted that Three Shells Lagoon is now open.

“We believe it will prove very popular for families, who will be able to enjoy the beach and water, all day, every day, throughout the year. In addition to the wonderful lagoon and beach, visitors will also be getting much needed toilet facilities, showers and landscaping."

Mr Miller added: “This prestigious development will provide a boost to local businesses, which will without doubt provide confidence, further investment and jobs.

"This will help Southend to keep one step ahead of other resorts and certainly give visitors something to come back for time and time again.”

Under the plans, the ageing jetty at Three Shells Beach is also being replaced for use by the Alexandra Yacht Club and Lower Thames Rowing Club, adding to the water sports opportunities at the central seafront.

Linda McKay, Commodore of the yacht club, said: “The lagoon is not only an exciting addition to the town, it has been developed to provide safe sailing off the foreshore for not only the members of the Alexandra Yacht Club but also the Lower Thames Rowing Club.

“The yacht club has been sailing off this part of the foreshore since 1873. The yacht club, along with the rowing club, hopes to keep our historic presence alive, whilst providing valuable water-based activities on this central section of the foreshore for everyone to watch, or take part in, alongside the lagoon facility."

The project has been supported by £1.25m of Government Coastal Communities funding