Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Monday, 5 April 2010 11:47 UK

Threatened Dorset outdoor activities centre reopens

View from the Hengistbury Head Outdoor Centre
Hengistbury Head Outdoor Centre overlooks Christchurch Harbour

An outdoor activities centre in east Dorset which was threatened with closure last year has reopened to the public after a £50,000 renovation.

Brockenhurst College in the New Forest took over Hengistbury Head Outdoor Centre in Southbourne last September.

Bournemouth Borough Council had wanted to shut it because of "high running costs and the economic climate".

The Hampshire college agreed to to spend £100,000 on maintenance and repairs in return for a 25-year lease.

Brockenhurst College has spent about half of that on renovating the centre on the shoreline of Christchurch Harbour since taking it over on 1 September 2009.

A full programme of activity courses was launched on Easter Monday and will be available to local residents, clubs, schools and employers.

They will be able to enjoy various watersports, including sailing, kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing and raft building.

Nature reserve

The range of activities has been expanded to include activities such as field studies, rock climbing, archery and safety and rescue training.

There are also many sporting activities for people with disabilities.

Principal of Brockenhurst College Di Roberts said: "This is one of the most exciting community projects to be launched this year.

"We have increased the sporting activities available to the public, renovated walkways to enable inclusion for those with disabilities and made many further enhancements to the centre itself.

"Our highly experienced team will deliver an excellent experience to all our visitors in one of the most beautiful conservation spots in the south."

The centre is on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in the Hengistbury Head nature reserve.

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