Plans for a £600,000 visitor centre/cafe at Needham Lake have been approved and a local operator selected to run it – supporting local youth work and boosting tourism to the town.
Plans for the new centre which will function as a community event space, café and also feature a fully accessible Changing Places facility – the first in Needham Market, were granted planning permission at Wednesday’s (11 December) Mid Suffolk Development Control meeting.
The centre with the proposed facilities, will improve the offer to visitor and residents at the East of England’s most visited free attraction. Additionally the local economy will benefit with the provision of a new community venue and more outdoor leisure activities.
The centre will feature a completely accessible Changing Places facility, equipped with an adult-sized changing bench, hoist and shower to support people who are severely disabled in addition to general public convenience provision. The Changing Places facility will be funded in partnership with Needham Market community groups
127 Trading Limited, a trading entity of the Mix, has been selected as preferred tenants of the centre. They will manage the day to day running of the centre and café/restaurant on a ten-year lease manage. Working in partnership with the community they will offer a range of activities to help connect the people and attract visitors.
Building on their experience of running Cabbages and Kings at the Mix in Stowmarket, a modern vibrant community hub, 127 Trading Ltd will enhance the Needham Lake visitor experience offering a variety of refreshments, a seasonal menu and a range of evening events in partnership with the community,including events and activities.
Cllr Julie Flatman Mid Suffolk District Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said:
“It is great to see this development moving forward. We look forward to working with 127 Trading Ltd to establish a great community facility and something that will bring together local groups and also attract more visitors from across the district and beyond.
Needham Lake already has a great reputation and this centre will enable us to build on it and attract even more people to the Lake and the district.
We presented our plans to the Needham residents and businesses in October and took away some very useful feedback. As a result of the comments we received, we have included a Changing Place facility to the plans. It’s fantastic that, with community support, we were able to include this crucial provision. “
Dave Pepper CEO , The Mix said:
“One of the core principles of the Mix is that any profit we earn is invested into the community, specifically youth work. The great news with this project is that every penny spent on delicious food at Needham Lakes will help us invest in the lives of young people across Mid Suffolk.”
The next phase of the development will be the appointment and selection of a contractor. Following the tender process works are proposed to start in spring 2020.
The pre-qualification questionnaire for potential tenderers will commence on Monday 16 December, any interested local parties should sign up to Suffolk Sourcing* and register their interest.
Architect’s sketch credit: Hamson Barron Smith