Councillors have agreed to undertake a site visit before reaching a crunch decision on the building of a £3m coastal activity centre in Whitehaven.

The scale of the project as well as its setting within the conservation area, harbour zone and Whitehaven Old Fort Scheduled monument raises some “complex” heritage issues, according to planning chiefs.

Copeland’s planning panel voted unanimously to visit the area earmarked for the three-storey harbourside development at Wellington Park, West Strand, to gain a better understanding of the issues.

Under the plans, the building would be at the base of Wellington Pit, which was operating from 1869 until 1935.

An equipment storage compound would be built on the site of the old Wellington Inn, with storage spaces for canoes, kayaks and sailing dinghies.

The space is intended for music, theatre, exhibitions and gatherings.

The project would also see the creation of a cycle workshop and a new slipway into Whitehaven’s outer harbour.

The design is inspired by the harbour setting including the large sandstone rocks thrown upon the outer piers by the sea, while the form of the building represents erosion by the natural forces.

The community interest company behind the project has incorporated renewable energy into the design.

Pedestrian access would be provided off West Pier, with an additional entrance off West Strand.

Parking facilities would include 16 bays and a mini bus parking space, as well as 22 cycle parking spaces.

The ground floor would host a reception, a multi-use space as well as changing facilities, toilets and drying room for those entering the centre directly from the harbour.

A mezzanine gallery on the first floor would be used as a lounge and breakfast area, with a gallery and exhibition space to host paintings by Percy Kelly.

The second floor would be given over to accommodation.