Vision for new Ellesmere visitor centre and cafe revealed
The design for a potential new visitor centre, cafe and play area to boost tourism in Ellesmere has been revealed.
Shropshire Council hopes the redevelopment of the former Swan Hill depot site in the town will be open by Easter 2020.
A company will also be sought to transform the former depot building into a water sports and activities centre.
Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for culture and leisure, said it is all part of a plan to make better use of the Mere and boost tourism.
“The moving of our countryside depot at Swan Hill presented an opportunity to invest in the site to offer a new all-year-round visitor facility,” she said.
“The aim of the project is twofold. Firstly we want to develop and promote the Mere at Ellesmere Country Park as the outdoor recreation centre of Shropshire’s Lake District.
“We can do this by creating more outdoor recreational opportunities for visitors, so that it delivers an all year-round family visitor and tourist destination, increasing usage out of the main spring and summer seasons.
“The provision of a new visitor café and centre will also act as a hub to promote other attractions within northern Shropshire and beyond - acting as a stepping stone into the meres and mosses landscape of north Shropshire.”
Early plans include a cafe, indoor soft play area, an outdoor adventure area and a large space for exhibitions.
The proposals are now subject to funding being secured and planning permission granted.
Shaun Burkey, country parks and sites officer for Shropshire Council, said: “Our objective is to build a new visitor centre with a large well-used children’s outdoor adventure play area that provides for a family audience with young children.
“This offers the opportunity to develop the potential of the site so that it becomes an all year-round visitor destination for sport and recreation that will increase visitor numbers out of the main tourism season.
“We would modernise the existing outdoor play area and remove all but one of the neglected buildings at the depot, to provide space for the new facilities to increase visitors’ enjoyment and their experience of the Mere.”
Earlier this year the authority revealed the project has a maximum budget of £450,000.
Ann Hartley, Shropshire Councillor for the Ellesmere Urban division, added: “It’s great that a derelict area could soon be regenerated. It would be tastefully developed, as we are very mindful that this is a very sensitive area, and it’s essential that any buildings are in keeping with area.This development would also complement the busy play area, enhancing the facilities that are currently provided.”
European funding is being sought from The Rural Development Programme for England. Ellesmere Town Council has also contributed to the project which would bring three new jobs to the town.