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Local Democracy Reporting Service
Plans for a new coastal conservation centre near South Tyneside’s iconic Souter Lighthouse have been given the green light.
Last year, the National Trust submitted proposals for a new development beside the Grade II listed lighthouse – the world’s first to be designed and built to use electricity. The conservation hub would be based at the Whitburn Coastal Park, near the existing lighthouse car park.
It will provide a base for coastal wildlife groups while providing opportunities for visitors to “explore, discover and record the natural heritage of the coast”, the National Trust said. Features will include an interactive coastal activity zone, bird observation area, multi-use learning space and an accessible public toilet and changing room for users of the coastal park.
Although the building is planned in a sensitive area, South Tyneside Council planners said the scheme met the "very special circumstances" needed to override any harm to the Green Belt. Reasons provided by the applicant included the cultural and social benefits of the new centre, eco-friendly design features, boosting the local tourism industry and the inability to incorporate the facility at the Souter Lighthouse due to space constraints.
Two National Trust properties in Cumbria reopen today after the lockdown, but with limited facilities and only by prior booking.
The charity is opening the outdoor spaces at Fell Foot on Windermere and the grounds at Sizergh Castle near Kendal but many other sites remain closed.
Although the extensive grounds and paths were open at both sites are available, the castle at Sizergh, and the cafes and shops at both sites will only open later.
The charity says it wants to open "more places as soon as possible" but indoor attractions present much greater challenges for social distancing and maintaining strict cleanliness.
BBC News Online
National Trust properties in the East reopening their park gates today to pre-booked visitors are already fully booked.
The number of visitors has been limited to roughly a third of capacity, to enable appropriate social distancing and the trust has warned people not to turn up without a ticket as they will be turned away.
Once inside, there will be safety information signs and the routes will be marked out, but there is no time limit to a stay.
Gardens and nature reserves may be open, but the stately homes and restaurants on estates remain closed.
Those opening today - and which are fully booked - are:
The trust said that over the coming weeks people will be able to book for more properties - but is urging visitors to limit the number of visits, to stay local and avoid busy hot-spots.
The following car parks also need to be booked:
- Blickling Estate, Norfolk (Fully booked)
- Dunwich Heath and Beach, Suffolk
- Felbrigg Hall, Gardens and Estate, Norfolk
- Houghton Mill, Cambridgeshire (Fully booked)
- Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire (Fully booked)