Australia’s first surf park of Urbnsurf will open this summer in Melbourne it’s founder, believes that their airport location made the planning and development processes simplified that was required to bring the seven-hectare site to life.
The worth $40 million, MCG-sized lagoon that is on Airport Drive in Tullamarine, uses a Wavegarden Cove wave generator that will be able to produce up to 1000 waves like ocean for surfers every hour. The park will also include landscaped outdoor spaces, a surf academy, hot tubs, an all-day restaurant with surfing views – run by The Three Blue Ducks along with a surf shop, all minutes from Melbourne Airport.
Executive director and Founder of Urbnsurf Andrew Ross told us that he like airports. From a planning and regulatory perspective, they are actually pretty good places to try developments.”
Mr Ross said the company had been looking around in Melbourne for almost a year for potential sites that could meet their extensive requirements and when they found out in 2015 that Melbourne Airport reached out to them. “It was incredible,” said Mr Ross. “It took just six months from first meeting to take initiative and having a leased site with planning approval.”
Urbnsurf founder Andrew Ross said airports are a good place to try new developments.
Gary Smith, a spokesperson for Melbourne Airport, said they were pleased to host Urbnsurf, and that they hoped to attract further similar-minded tenants.
“Our vision for this precinct is one where we can be a stable, long-term home to the types of experiences and activities that our surrounding community can benefit from and embrace. It’s our goal to make the whole airport estate contribute to our presence in the community, and to do it in a way that Melbourne can feel a sense of ownership about.”
Mr Ross said the airport location did have some development complexities. As Melbourne Airport is on Commonwealth land, under the Airports Act 1996 it is subject to Commonwealth planning approvals and procedures. Developments valued at more than $20 million built on Melbourne Airport, or those which have “a significant impact on the environment or local community”, require a Major Development Plan (MDP).
However, despite requiring a MDP, Mr Ross said, “We have as our regulator, and as our landlord, the same entity – Melbourne Airport – which does provide for some streamlining.”
Unlike the ease of securing a location, it was a little harder to pitch the privately-owned business to mostly Australian-based investors.
The business has a new business model, and uses brand-new technology “that had never been built to scale” before. “It was a challenge, “ he said, “but our shareholders bought into the vision of what this could really be.”
Catch a wave before you catch a plane? It’ll be possible when Urbnsurf opens this summer.
For Mr Ross, establishing the surf park was a matter of personal ethical necessity. After 25 years working in the “the unholy trinity” – as a lawyer, executive banker, and an oil and gas company executive – he realised that, “I had to do something to redeem myself, otherwise when he die he is going south rather than north”.
The surf park reflects the customers and founders “deep-green core” said Mr Ross. “We’re not going to be successful unless we remain truthful to those values.”
The park will have solar panels throughout to offset the power usage, and they are searching for a renewable energy provider to secure a long-term supply for the wave generator. Recycled materials, including 18,000 tonnes of recycled concrete material from Melbourne Airport, were used in the construction.