A £3million Cumbria Coastal Activities Centre is one step closer following the announcement that the Coastal Communities Fund has invited a full funding application to be submitted.

It follows an expression of interest submitted by the Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners earlier this year to build and own the facility.

Thought to be the only centre of its kind in the North West, the Coastal Activities Centre is intended to provide an activity centre for the community, while also attracting tourists to the area and those already visiting the region.

It will be built on land beside the Wellington Inn Car Park, off West Strand and will be available for anyone taking part in sports and activities in and around the coast.

Draft plans for the three-storey building include changing rooms, shower facilities and economy accommodation for centre users – with 10 double en suite rooms and self-service café area.

There will also be classrooms and laboratory space, designed for education and training for universities, colleges and school groups.

A multi-use room has also been factored into the plans for flexible community space.

Faceted in stone with a copper roof and panelling, the building will include a weather screen at the side for protection against the environment.

The centre is designed for immediate access into the sea and will have its own jetty right outside the building.

Around £2.2million will come from the Coastal Communities Fund and the rest from local funding parties.

The centre will be operated and managed by a community interest company made up of local people, creating around ten jobs. Any profits made will go back into developing community services..

Celia MacKenzie, Chief Executive of the Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners, said: “Being asked to submit a full application for the funding to build the Coastal Activities Centre is exciting news for West Cumbria and the rest of the county. It will be a fantastic asset for the whole community and being a truly flexible building, it can be used for many purposes.

“Our aim is to attract more people to use the coast. The coast is the most under-utilised region of this county and the centre will help make the area more attractive for people to live, work play and visit.”

The next phase in the project will see submission of planning applications and public engagement.

Being a community-led endeavour, a steering group was set up to develop the project and represent the interests of local groups and stakeholders.

Prof Andy Gale, of University of Cumbria, and steering group member, said: “What a tremendous opportunity and boost to Whitehaven Harbour, Copeland and the West Coast. I love the vision for this new Coastal Activities Centre, bringing people of all ages and many different interests together, to experience, learn and enjoy in this magical space.

"The centre will be a destination adding cultural, outdoor aquatic and educational value to the region. It will stimulate more new possibilities in the town and region too.

“The Steering Group is there to build and maintain a coherent vision and support for this venture, for Whitehaven, the region and the wide range of stakeholders involved, far into the future.”

Gina McCabe, of Whitehaven Harbour Youth Project and Community Interest Company member, said: "I am honoured to be a part of this ambitious and creative venture.

"There is a tangible energy among the Steering Group and a bubbling excitement to start sharing the vision far and wide.

"There is still much to discuss and plan, but there is a fundamental part of this project that everyone has been committed to from the outset: it must be run by the community and for the community first and foremost.

"Adopting the legal structure of a Community Interest Company is vital to this purpose and will provide the building blocks for the facilities operation going forwards. Our beautiful big West Coast deserves a beautiful big facility that celebrates place, community, activity, environment, and leisure in one. I for one cannot wait!"

Cumbria Coastal Activity Centre is phase two of the wider harbour development, with phase one being the redevelopment of Old New Quay.

Building plans:

Ground floor: Multi-use room, male and female changing facilities and drying room.

First floor: Classroom and lecture rooms, office space for centre management, mezzanine gallery

and self-service café area.

Second floor: Economy accommodation for 10 double en-suite rooms – eight of which have private

terraces overlooking the harbour, and a bunkhouse which sleeps up to 10 people.

Public consultation:

Presentation of the outline scheme to members of the public will take place from 4.30pm to 7pm on Tuesday, December 4 at Whitehaven Harbour Youth Project, Swingpump Lane, Whitehaven.

The information will be displayed on Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners website following the public event - www.whitehavenhc.org.uk

This includes details on how the public can comment on the proposals and get involved.