Work to Begin on New Beach Café

Work on an impressive new beach café at Silecroft will soon begin.

Copeland Borough Council has appointed Roland Hill Ltd to carry out the work, and building will begin on February 13. It is hoped the new café and toilets will be ready for use by late September.

The building will have spectacular views and room for 30 diners. There will be an external shower for beach users, and a Changing Places disabled toilet and changing facility – only the second in the Lake District National Park. The building will have two courtyards, offering shelter regardless of the wind direction, and there will be additional accessible toilets available to beach users as well as café customers.

Silecroft Beach Cafe is part of the Connecting Cumbria’s Hidden Coast Programme, which is led by Copeland Council and funded by the Coastal Communities Fund and Sellafield Ltd. Once complete, the building will be handed over to the council’s community partner Whicham Parish Council, which will own the building and oversee the operation of the café.

Copeland’s Elected Mayor, Mike Starkie, said: “We see this design-led café as critical in attracting new visitors to coastal Copeland, as well as catering for the significant number of locals who use this beautiful beach.

“I am really pleased that Whicham Parish Council is partnering with us on this. On completion, Silecroft will have a beautiful building in a unique setting that will serve as both a place for the community and an attraction for visitors.”

A spokesperson for Whicham Parish Council said: “We are excited that the community-led vision for this cafe is about to be realised. It will enhance the unique location of this special place for locals, visitors and especially people with disabilities and their carers. We are grateful to the funding bodies and Copeland Borough Council for leading the build.”

Gary McKeating, Head of Community and Development at Sellafield Ltd, added: “Connecting Cumbria’s Hidden Coast is a key programme of activity that is helping to diversify the West Cumbria coastal offer to residents and visitors alike. It’s also pleasing to see a local contractor chosen to undertake the work. We look forward to seeing another piece of the hidden coast puzzle in place.”

The vision for a cafe evolved after residents included it in their Community Plan in 2011. Since then the community-led project has been closely supported by the Economic Development team at Copeland Borough Council, and a temporary cafe was built in 2017. Its success proved the business case for a permanent structure.

The café is designed by Konishi Gaffney Architects and full planning permission was granted by the Lake District National Park Authority in June 2021.
Turner Prize winning artist Martin Boyce has designed the metal security shutters for the café.

Silecroft beach is in the south west corner of the Lake District National Park, in Copeland. It is the only bathing beach in the Lake District National Park. The expansive, pale sands are overlooked by Black Combe fell to the north and there are spectacular views across the Irish Sea towards the Isle of Man.

This project is part of the Connecting Cumbria’s Hidden Coast programme, which is led by Copeland Borough Council and funded with £1.15m from Sellafield Ltd and more than £1m from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund. It aims to inspire visitors to Copeland’s coast, drive economic growth, promote health and wellbeing and raise awareness of the area in the rest of the UK. As well as the new beach cafe at Silecroft, there is a running festival and several new cycle and footpath routes.

Click here to see an artists’ impression of the new café.