Park cafe set to return after public pressure

Whirlowbrook park shelter
Whirlowbrook park shelter

When the cafe closed in the old hall in Whirlowbrook Park, customers were stirred to action in the form of a 1,500 name protest petition and local MP Nick Clegg took up the cause.

Now it is due to return - in a different location.

The shelter next to the access road is set to be converted into a small cafe with an outdoor area for tables at the side.

Details have been submitted to the council with a view to the first customers being served towards the end of the summer.

Behind the project are Saxon Hotels Ltd, which signed a 25-year lease with the council last year to take over Whirlowbrook Hall as a wedding and events venue. To the dismay of customers, the deal did not include reopening the public cafe with its terrace and glorious views down the valley.

However, the company promised to provide a replacement, and now the intention is to convert the shelter in the middle of the park.

Project manager Richard Smith said it was hoped a council decision on proposed changes to the building will be made next month so that work could start immediately, taking around six weeks.

“We are hoping to create a cafe that is sympathetic to the environment and people want to go to,” he said. “It will be a cafe providing teas, coffees, light refreshments and ice creams. Saxon are very keen to do it, to fulfil the need. We are looking to start as soon as possible.”

Plans indicate three tables inside the building and six outside, with the retention of the outdoor public toilets and the creation of an indoor disabled and unisex toilet.