MP opens new Northam Burrows Visitor Centre at Westward Ho!

(L to R) Councillor Nick Laws, Stuart Brocklehurst and Sir Geoffrey Cox MP

(L to R) Councillor Nick Laws, Stuart Brocklehurst and Sir Geoffrey Cox MP - Credit: TDC

An invited gathering of people met on Friday (July 23) to take part in the official opening of the new Northam Burrows Visitor Centre, located just a stone’s throw from the award-winning Blue Flag beach at Westward Ho!

Clad in larch wood the multiple wings of the centre have been designed to nestle discreetly into the surrounding dunes with a Café offering far reaching views to Lundy Island from the raised outdoor seating areas, and glass fronted interiors.

The venue is already becoming a focal point within the 254-hectare park and replaces a much older building, which had undergone little change, since its original installation in 1984.

Sir Geoffrey Cox MP meets Torridge District Council Ranger Rose Roberts

Sir Geoffrey Cox MP meets Torridge District Council Ranger Rose Roberts - Credit: TDC

The centre has been funded by £1.2M from the Governments Coastal Communities Fund and £400K from the Getting Building fund with Torridge Officers providing the project management element of the build.

The Pebble Ridge Kitchen Café run by the owners of the Royal George in Appledore have already settled into their new home, serving up local produce and refreshments.

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The wider facilities also boast an exhibition centre with mini-aquarium and displays of local wildlife, historic landscapes, and innovative interactive digital sections with a hands-on approach for children to tap into.

A panoramic view of Westward Ho! Beach and the new visitors centre

A panoramic view of Westward Ho! Beach and the new visitors centre - Credit: TDC

A new and much needed accessible changing places facility for people with disabilities has also been provided as part of a new services block.

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Office and meeting room accommodation for the rangers and partner organisations are now airy, bright and better insulated against the Atlantic weather this part of the coast sometimes experiences.

At the same time materials have been reused where possible or upgraded to better insulation properties to add to the overarching green environmental approach adopted for the project, with an estimated saving of 3.6 tons of carbon per year.

The new Northam Burrows Visitor Centre

The new Northam Burrows Visitor Centre - Credit: TDC

The Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Cox QC MP said: “I am delighted to be here today to open this superb new Visitor Centre and to applaud all the hard work that has gone into its creation. I have special memories of the area in my youth having swum off the beach at Westward Ho! in the 1960s, and these buildings will be a wonderful enhancement of the experience of the Burrows for locals and tourists alike.

“I also hope and believe that the £1.6 million invested from the Government’s regional investment funds could, and should, be the start of something much bigger in Torridge where we see even more investment in our area.

“I will be doing everything in my power to make sure Torridge has the right support for its future aspirations, such as our Levelling Up Fund bid for Isaac’s Yard in Bideford, and the regeneration of other sites throughout the district.”

Torridge District Councillor Nick Laws, ward member for Westward Ho! and deputy mayor of Northam said: “My family connection to the Burrows goes back to the 1970’s when my father-in-law became the first Northam Burrows ranger for the area. Something must have rubbed off as the current generations of our family are no less passionate about this fantastic resort and rare wildlife and plants preserved and protected on the burrows.

“The facilities at the centre will help educate the next generations of visitors and also offer a more modern level of comfort and refreshment for locals and tourists alike. Staycationers are already re-discovering the beauty of Westward Ho! beach and the centre will be an important part of that offering an anchor for the local tourism industry.”

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