Cumbrian property venture BEC has said that it hopes to usher in a “new era” for the town, with a £55m first phase of development at North Shore comprising a four-star hotel, 400-space car park and a 75,000 sq ft office building.
The scheme is being developed with partners including Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners and Copeland Borough Council, and also includes a mixed-use office and café development geared towards start-ups, to be built on the town’s former bus station site. All work will be supported by improvements to the road infrastructure, led by Cumbria County Council.
BEC – Britain’s Energy Coast – is owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Copeland and Allerdale borough councils and Cumbria County Council, working with other partners including the Cumbria LEP.
The group said that the hotel will include around 100 rooms over five storeys, with the intention for it be a major social spot for locals as well as a tourist facility.
The office building will also be five storeys in height and will be built on the former Mark House site. The developer said the site will help retain and attract high-skilled public services together with private sector nuclear and advanced manufacturing supply chain employment. Mark House and the Park nightclub were demolished in 2016.
The multi-storey car park is to be built on land to the west of North Shore Road, adjacent to Tesco, in a phased programme.
Rob Miller, head of property and development, said: “The overall scheme has been estimated as a £300m development in total. Funding will be a mix of private commercial finance, social and civic funding, and direct investment from BEC.
“We’ve worked hard to not only develop exciting plants for Whitehaven, but commercially viable ones too. This is the start of a new era, where Whitehaven and beyond can attract top investment from across the country.” BEC is hoping to deliver the scheme as a net zero carbon project.
Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland, concluded: “I believe the plans for the North Shore area of Whitehaven will be transformational. They tick every box. The hotel ties in with our ambitions to increase tourism and give people working in and around Whitehaven another option to stay in town, rather than staying elsewhere and traveling in.
“The office development will attract business to the area, in addition to increased footfall courtesy of the recreational use on the ground floor, while the multi-storey will help solve long-standing parking issues.
“For many years, Mark House stood derelict and represented an area’s decline. But I believe its demolition and the exciting new plans that we now see coming forward truly signify our town’s renaissance.”