RNLI announces plan for permanent lifeboat station

PUBLISHED: 08:40 28 January 2015 | UPDATED: 08:52 28 January 2015

Weston RNLI fundraisers and crew pictured at new lifeboat station location, Madeira Cove  Weston.

Weston RNLI fundraisers and crew pictured at new lifeboat station location, Madeira Cove Weston.

Archant

THE new home for a lifeboat station in Weston has been chosen by the RNLI.

Weston RNLI fundraisers and crew pictured at new lifeboat station location, Madeira Cove  Weston.Weston RNLI fundraisers and crew pictured at new lifeboat station location, Madeira Cove Weston.

The life-saving charity has announced plans to apply for planning permission to build opposite Marine Lake at Madeira Cove in Birnbeck Road.

The RNLI has been fundraising to build a permanent base since its previous home on the derelict Birnbeck Pier became too dangerous too use.

The charity has been working with North Somerset Council to draft proposals for a new base since ending its 131-year association with Birnbeck in 2013. It is hoped a formal application will be submitted this year.

Plans include a new slipway at Anchor Head, from which the RNLI would be able to launch into the same deep water as it did from Birnbeck Pier.

It would retain its slipway at Knightstone Harbour, which is currently home to its temporary lifeboat station.

Lifeboat operations manager Charlie Conroy said: “To have a permanent station at this location would be a great step forward for our life-saving service in the town in so many respects.

“For many years now the volunteer lifeboat crew have operated in extraordinarily challenging circumstances.

“A lifeboat station on the Madeira Cove site would improve our life-saving capability in the town considerably, and also importantly allow far more interaction with the public.

“This is wonderful news and could prove to be an enormous benefit to the town.”

The challenging tidal range of the Bristol Channel has made it difficult for the RNLI to replicate the ideal launching conditions it had at Birnbeck.

Other potential locations for a station had included Anchor Head, the Cliffs Tea Rooms and the Piermaster’s House near Birnbeck Pier.

If granted permission, Madeira Cove would house two lifeboats with modern crew facilities, and would be more accessible to the public.

Both the cove and the land at Anchor Head are owned by the council, and the project can only proceed if planning consent is secured and the land handed over.

The RNLI says initial conversations with the council indicate there are no planning policies or property obstacles which would prevent the scheme from going ahead.

Howard Richings, the RNLI’s head of estates capital projects, added: “The RNLI’s responsibility is to provide modern, safe facilities for our volunteer crews and we have reached the limits of how long we can wait for such a scheme.

“The Madeira Cove proposal is the first really practical alternative location that has come up.

“To obtain planning consent in such a sensitive location we recognise that the design will have to be sympathetic with the site and will have to incorporate appropriate landscaping.”

The charity will prepare its planning application in consultation with the council and other interested parties.

Madeira Cove was once home to the Cove Pavilion Theatre, and currently features a sculpture of Steep Holm and some memorial seating.

* What do you think of the RNLI’s plans? Leave your comment at the bottom of this story.

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