Council set to borrow for £1m rebuild of fire-hit beach cafe

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Beach House fire
The fire-damaged Beach House in Mudeford

HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds could be borrowed to fund a £1m rebuild of a café on Mudeford sandbank which was gutted by fire more than a year ago.

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Beach House had to be demolished following the blaze in November 2018, leaving BCP Council with a legal obligation to replace it within two years, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Next Wednesday members of the ruling cabinet will be asked to back proposals for an “ambitious” replacement.

BCP Council has received a £350,000 insurance payout following the Beach House fire in Mudeford but the proposed new building is expected to cost just over £1m.

A report published ahead of next week’s meeting outlined plans to meet the gap by borrowing more than £800,000.

It said: “By mutual consent with the tenant [Macemade], the council has pursued the current development programme to design a new building.

“This will deliver improved visitor experience to Mudeford sandbank, allowing the tenant to expand their current food offer and deliver an increase in revenue for the council.”

The Beach House
The Beach House at Mudeford, which was rebuilt with a temporary structure after the fire

Rental rates charged by the council are below the average for other similar seafront premises it owns.

Although Macemade was responsible for maintenance costs as part of its tenancy agreement, the building was insured by the now-defunct Christchurch Borough Council with the agreement transferred to BCP Council following its formation in April 2019.

Last summer the business was run from three converted shipping containers and a fish-and-chip van alongside the remnants of the old building.

But the report says this is not a long-term solution because exposure to coastal weather conditions will damage the temporary structures.

Planning permission is expected to be granted later this year before work starts at the end of the summer. The new building could then be ready to hand back to Macemade in May 2021.

BCP Council said it would benefit from “ecologically sound principles” including use of solar energy, rain and grey water harvesting and a heat recovery system.

Cllr Lewis Allison, cabinet member for tourism, leisure and communities, said: “This truly outstanding natural location needs to continue to provide facilities for the people who visit.

“We’re considering the options to ensure we can provide these in an environmentally friendly way with a range of built-in measures that show sensitivity and respect for the special surroundings.”

At its meeting on Wednesday, the cabinet will be asked to give its backing to the proposals for the rebuild and to give the go-ahead for the remaining funds required to be borrowed.

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