A charity has said it is "disappointed" after seeing its plans for a 'world first' rejected in Cornwall.

The Wave Project, which supports children with their mental health, had applied for planning permission to build what it described as the first purpose-built Beach School for vulnerable children in the world – right here in Cornwall.

This would have seen a site near to Gwithian Towans beach in Hayle turned into a centre for surf therapy and education facility, combining outdoor learning and surfing with schemes of work that help children to re-engage with the idea of learning.

It was designed to support vulnerable local children who struggle to engage with traditional school lessons and are at risk of permanent exclusion, and would have consisted of classrooms, communal space, toilets and changing facilities, offices and meeting space, kitchen facilities, and indoor storage on land north west of Godrevy Park.


However, the charity has now announced that Cornwall Council has turned down the proposal, on the grounds that it would not be in keeping with the area.

It said it would not be appealing the decision, but was now looking for alternative sites and asked anyone with suitable land to come forward.

Writing on the charity's Facebook page, Joe Taylor, founder and CEO of The Wave Project, said: "We’re sad to announce that our planning application to build a dedicated Beach School centre for vulnerable young people has been rejected by Cornwall Council.

"This would have supported up to 600 children a year who are risk of school exclusion, helping them to learn outside and feel more positive about learning.

"Evaluation from our current Beach School programme has found this method is effective in helping children to reintegrate in school, making them more ready to learn. Children who take part in Beach School show increased attendance, lower sanctions, improved performance and a more positive attitude.

"Unfortunately, council planners turned the application down on the grounds that it would not be in keeping with the area. This was disappointing, especially as the scheme received no objections from Natural England or the local Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team.

The site layout that had been proposed Picture: Wave Project/Lavigne Lonsdale

The site layout that had been proposed Picture: Wave Project/Lavigne Lonsdale

"The Wave Project has decided not to appeal this decision, partly on the grounds of cost, and partly because we respect the views of the local community in Gwithian, who voiced objections to the project.

"However, we would still like to build it.

"Only today, a report in the Guardian newspaper highlighted that children’s mental health in the UK is among the worst in the OECD. Self harm, suicide and ADHD are at an all-time high among under 18s. Schools are being pushed into more and more testing, which increases the problems. And children’s mental health services are underfunded and overwhelmed – it can take up to three years even to get an assessment.

"Beach School helps by offering struggling pupils an opportunity to learn outside the classroom for one day a week. This helps to reset their learning goals and gives them confidence about learning. When they are ready, they return to school as enthusiastic learners.

"If you want to help us achieve our vision where schools have access to this service, please get in touch. We have plans ready to go, an evaluated curriculum and partnerships with schools in place.

"We need to find a new site of at least an acre of land within walking distance to a beach. If this is you please contact me at CEO@waveproject.co.uk to discuss."