A new coastal community hub is set to be built at a County Durham tourist spot for residents and visitors to enjoy when taking a trip to the seaside.
Working with the Heritage Coast Partnership, Durham County Council is investing £250,000 to attract £1.35 million funding from the government’s Coastal Community Fund for a new coastal hub at Crimdon Dene, featuring a café, toilet facilities and a community space.
Crimdon, with its picturesque sea views, sandy dunes and wide-open beach, attracts an increasing amount of people each year to enjoy its charms, with the number of visits now standing at 220,000 per year. However, for more than a decade there have been no facilities for people to use while enjoying this gateway to Durham’s Heritage Coast.
This part of the coast is also home to a rare and varied amount of wildlife, including a colony of little terns that migrate from West Africa each summer to breed. It also welcomes ringed plovers, lizards, rare orchids and insects. Much of the site is legally protected for its nature conservation interest.
The hub will become a place for people to learn more about the unique coastal wildlife that visits the Crimdon coastline and discovers ways to help protect it in the future.
The new building’s facilities will offer a 40-seat café for visitors, with an adjacent kitchen, a changing places room, two accessible toilets, a baby changing room, and a volunteers’ room.
It will also be used by local schools and community groups while providing a place for volunteers to gather before and after working on the shoreline habitats.
The modern design for the new site includes low-energy features and the latest technology for water management which will give the building a low carbon footprint while providing public toilets, café facilities and space for local community groups and volunteers to gather.
The project will be undertaken on behalf of the Heritage Coast Partnership following planning approval and will occupy a corner position at the existing access road from the A1086. Once completed, the scheme will create a number of full-time employment positions.
Following discussions and funding applications, the 31-week project is due to begin next week, on 19 October, with a target completion date of 4 June next year.
The Heritage Coast Partnership previously drew funding from the Coastal Revival Fund to assess the opportunity to improve visitor facilities for the Crimdon site. The partnership also used EU Life programme funding to enable little tern recovery in the Crimdon dunes over the past five years, using a phased approach to rationalise access to the beach to protect conservation interests and raising awareness of the terns with visitors.
Events will also be held at the hub to support the wider Heritage Lottery funded SeaScapes programme, a partnership and community approach to protecting and celebrating the North East stretch of coastline, with more than 30 coastal projects from South Shields to Teesmouth over the next six years.
Progress on the build of the coastal hub will be shared on the Heritage Coast website over the winter months.
Cllr Joy Allen, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “Each year we have been seeing the number of visitors to Crimdon increase as more and more people flock here to enjoy the views, beaches and the dynamic landscape of our county’s coastline.
“This new coastal hub will provide much-needed facilities for visitors, in turn attracting tourists from further afield, and will make our coast more accessible for schools, local organisations and those who are less able and can make use of the facilities.”
Cllr Carl Marshall, the council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The plans for a new coastal hub at Crimdon will not only add to what our stunning coastline already has to offer but will help create a community space to attract even more visitors which in turn will help to boost our county’s economy in its recovery during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are pleased that the build of this modern, environmentally-conscious, community hub can begin this autumn, ready to welcome visitors in the summer next year.”
For more information and updates on the progress of the build, visit durhamheritagecoast.org