Case study

Silecroft Beach Cafe, Cumbria

The aim of this project was to regenerate a neglected area of the Silecroft beachfront and provide a much-needed resource for local people and holidaymakers.

Sal Millar, café operator Sam Burns, outside Silecroft Beach Café.

Sal Millar, left, and café operator Sam Burns, outside Silecroft Beach Café.

Nearest NDA site Duration Total investment LLWR contribution Other funders Delivered by
Sellafield 18 months £26,000 £4,000 Copeland Community Fund, Cumbria Community Foundation, Cumbria Exchange Whicham Community Interest Company Beach Group
Infographic summary of the project

Outcomes:

  • creation of a new catering facility that encourages people to visit the beachfront in Silecroft
  • raising the aspirations of the community
  • enhanced provision for the rural community
  • one new full-time job created and several roles
  • increase community pride and cohesion through initial renovation work to catering container and subsequent delivery of community events

Key objectives:

The community had long been concerned about the lack of facilities at Silecroft beach and a Beach Regeneration Plan was first presented to the village in March 2014. Thanks in part to funding from LLWR, and the hard work of a group of committed local people, the Silecroft Beach Café opened in August 2017 to fulfil this need. It has proved popular with the local community and holidaymakers alike, and in its opening year it attracted visitors from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United States. Café usage data will be used as part of an eventual funding bid for a permanent café on the site.

Why was this project important?

The new facility has increased the sense of civic pride in the locality, provided weekend and school holiday employment for young people and created a venue for community events such as beach barbecues, and fishing competitions, encouraging increased community interaction. A second container, including toilets accessible for wheelchair users, has improved the visitor experience. One full-time job has also been created.

Sal Millar, member of the Beach Group said:

The reaction to the café has been so positive. Its popularity has amazed us. Next to the sea and the mountains, people love it.

What was involved?

  • purchase of a catering container
  • equip the container
  • employ an operator
  • establish the café’s reputation in the local community

What worked well?

  • community-led initiative with many volunteer hours spent equipping and decorating its catering container
  • wheelchair-accessible toilets have proved a popular addition

What could be improved?

Initial problems were experienced due to a lack of funding to secure mains electricity to the café. But this situation was resolved when LLWR funded the installation of mains power. The addition of a permanent café and toilets on the site would be an obvious improvement. This remains a long-term aspiration, though extensive investment would be required. Potholes in the access road to the beachfront and café, and the car park in front of the facility are an issue.

Next steps:

  • ensure the café again remains open throughout winter
  • continue to raise awareness and profile
  • encourage even greater community usage
  • eventual aspiration is for a permanent café on the site
Published 14 January 2020