Gibraltar Point nature reserve to get new £1m visitor centre

Gibraltar Point Image copyright Barrie Wilkinson
Image caption Gibraltar Point runs southwards from the edge of Skegness to the mouth of the Wash

A visitor centre at a nature reserve featured in the Shipping Forecast is to be demolished and replaced after it was severely damaged by flooding.

The centre at Gibraltar Point has been closed since a storm surge hit the Lincolnshire coast in December.

Rather than spend money repairing the old centre, it will be replaced with a new £1m facility raised on stilts to protect it from future flooding.

Lincolnshire County Council has submitted a planning application.

Councillor Colin Davie, executive member for economic development, said: "If everything goes to plan, we could be welcoming the first visitors to the new site by 2016."

Image copyright Barrie Wilkinson
Image caption The existing Gibraltar Point visitor centre, pictured here in 2006, will be demolished
Image copyright Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
Image caption It was severely damaged by flooding in December 2013

The council has worked on the plans with Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, which manages the site.

The trust had to temporarily close the nature reserve, together with Donna Nook and Far Ings nature reserves, after they were all flooded.

The visitor centre at Far Ings was also damaged but this has been repaired, and the centre reopened in August.

Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust's chief executive Paul Learoyd said: "The charity has worked with the county council at Gibraltar Point for over 65 years and has witnessed many changes.

"We hope that, despite the devastating impact of the flooding, a new centre on the site will provide visitors with an attractive facility, enhancing a visit to this much-loved nature reserve."

Image caption Donna Nook was also flooded, displacing hundreds of seals
Image copyright Handout image
Image caption The new Gibraltar Point visitor centre will adjoin the old coast guard building, pictured on the right
Image copyright Barrie Wilkinson
Image caption The coast guard building, pictured here in 1958, was built in the 19th century

Lincolnshire County Council is contributing £430,000, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is contributing £150,000, and an application is being made for £420,000 from the government's Coastal Communities Fund.

The nature reserve remains open to visitors in the meantime, and a temporary portable building will soon be put in the car park to provide visitor facilities.

Image copyright Don Davis
Image caption The bird observatory at Gibraltar Point, opened in April 1949, was one of the earliest
Image copyright Don Davis
Image caption The work of the observatory is carried out voluntarily by local and visiting ornithologists
Image copyright Don Davis
Image caption Hundreds of thousands of birds fly through or over or make landfall at Gibraltar Point during the course of a year

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