A brand new £1.8million visitor centre has been given the go-ahead at Northam Burrows.

Torridge District Council’s (TDC) plans committee unanimously voted to approve the new two-storey centre at its meeting on Thursday.

As well as a café and outdoor terrace, the centre would provide disabled access and parking which is not currently available.

There would also be a larger exhibition space, multi-use community space, and offices.

Planning agent Peter Leaver, speaking on behalf of the application, said the café and office space would be essential to the new centre’s sustainability.

“The old visitor’s centre has been there since the mid-80s and is nearing the end of its useful life,” he said.

“The proposed centre will be a part of the project to encourage increased and year-round visitors to the burrows.

“It is part of the growing interest in nature tourism and will create new jobs.”

READ MORE: Plans revealed for new £1.8million Northam Burrows visitor centre

Councillor Jane Whittaker praised the new design, and said: “We call it a country park, but I don’t think we provide very good facilities for a country park.

“I think it’s an excellent idea and we have worked really closely with the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which is brilliant.”

Councillors discussed the fact the new centre would be at risk of flooding, and even joked about whether dinghies were included in the flood risk mitigation.

The theme carried on throughout the debate, with Councillor Phillip Hackett likening the new building and its wavy roof to an ark.

“It’s a sensitive development in the right place,” he added.

“It’s going to attract tourism and it’s going to be a destination for people to go to.

“It’s somewhere people will want to visit, and that ticks all the boxes for me.”

The council has applied for £1.2million in funding from the Coastal Communities Fund to support the cost of the development.

When the Gazette revealed the plans in May, Councillor Nick Laws, ward member for Westward Ho! said: ““It’s a big step forward in the quality of the burrows centre and it’s going to be terrific for education.

“The design is absolutely splendid; I love how it reflects the waves and with the natural timber finish it’s just going to blend in.”

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