The centre will be based in Crimdon Dene as a place for people to learn more about the unique coastal wildlife and discover ways to help protect it in future.
This includes a colony of little terns which migrate from West Africa each summer to breed and ringed plovers, lizards, rare orchids and insects.
Working with the Heritage Coast Partnership, Durham County Council is investing £250,000 to attract £1.35million funding from the Government’s Coastal Community Fund for the centre.
The building will offer a 40-seat cafe for visitors, a changing places room, two accessible toilets, a baby changing room and a volunteers room.
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It will also be used by local schools and community groups, while providing a place for volunteers to gather before and after working on the shoreline habitats.
Councillor Joy Allen, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, welcomed the plans.
“Each year we have been seeing the number of visitors to Crimdon increase as more and more people flock here to enjoy the views, beaches and the dynamic landscape of our county’s coastline,” she said.
“This new coastal hub will provide much-needed facilities for visitors, in turn attracting tourists from further afield, and will make our coast more accessible for schools, local organisations and those who are less able and can make use of the facilities.”
Crimdon, with its picturesque sea views, sandy dunes and wide-open beach, attracts an increasing amount of people each year to enjoy its charms, with the number of visits now standing at 220,000 per year.
However, for more than a decade there have been no facilities for people to use while enjoying this gateway to Durham’s Heritage Coast.
Modern designs for the new coastal centre include low-energy features and the latest technology for water management which will give the building a low carbon footprint while providing spaces for local community groups and volunteers to gather.
The project will be undertaken on behalf of the Heritage Coast Partnership and will occupy a corner position at the existing access road from the A1086.
Following discussions and funding applications, the project is due to begin next week, on October 19, with a target completion date of June 4 next year.
Once completed, the scheme will create a number of full-time jobs.
Events will also be held at the hub to support the wider Heritage Lottery funded SeaScapes programme, a partnership and community approach to protecting and celebrating the North East stretch of coastline, with dozens of coastal projects from South Shields to Teesmouth over the next six years.
Councillor Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, also praised the scheme.
“The plans for a new coastal hub at Crimdon will not only add to what our stunning coastline already has to offer, but will help create a community space to attract even more visitors which in turn will help to boost our county’s economy in its recovery during the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.
“We are pleased that the build of this modern, environmentally-conscious, community hub can begin this autumn, ready to welcome visitors in the summer next year.”
Progress on the build of the Crimdon coastal hub will be shared on the Heritage Coast website over the winter months.
For more information and updates, visit: durhamheritagecoast.org/