Plans to build a new £4m wedding and conference venue at Williamson Park in Lancaster are being developed.
Councillors have already agreed to spend £210,000 on working up designs for the new building, which would be situated on the current Pavilion Cafe site near the Ashton Memorial.
An initial feasibility study has been completed for building a new structure on the site which would include a café, retail, toilets, education suites and a wedding/conference centre – with an estimated cost of £4m. The council also has a vision to increase day visits to the park in the form of a treetop trail or “Lost Castle”, possibly similar to the one at Lowther Castle, with an estimated cost of £1m.
In a report, the council says it aims to invest in Williamson Park so that it can become a top regional attraction and generate additional income for the council.
The report said: “The café has seen increased footfall in each of the last seven years.
“The building is failing to meet this demand due to sizing/capacity issues with limited expansion options within the current structure.
“There is still opportunity to further grow the business. This will be foregone if investment is not made. Currently, the operation is subsidised by over £200,000 per annum, but it is hoped this development could generate net additional income in excess of £250,000 per annum.”
The Ashton Memorial already hosts 100 civil ceremonies per year, and the new venue would allow wedding parties to be held within the stunning environment of Williamson Park, with views over Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland Fells.
Will Griffith, Lancaster City Council’s public realm manager, said: “An initial piece of work has been completed to assess the feasibility of new facilities on the site of the current café which could include a much bigger café, retail, toilets, education suites and wedding/conference centre.
“The next stage is the development of a fully costed business plan, which we are at the very early stages of completing.
“Once finalised it will be submitted to elected members for their consideration.”
The report added that once the complete business case is developed it will be presented to councillors for a decision during the course of 2018/19.
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