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Work begins on new visitor centre and café at Needham Lake




Work to deliver a new visitor centre and café at a Suffolk beauty spot has officially started.

The new facilities at Needham Lake, near Needham Market, include a café with outdoor seating, a community events space, and a Changing Places facility with toilets.

Councillors from Mid Suffolk District Council joined representatives from construction firm SEH French, café operator 127 Trading and consultant advisors from Mid Suffolk Growth Ltd at the site today to celebrate the start of the project.

It is hoped the new facilities will help boost visitor numbers and encourage more people to enjoy outdoor leisure pursuits.

Cllr Julie Flatman (left) and Cllr Suzie Morley (right) marked the official start of work for the Needham Lake café and visitor centre with fellow councillors from Mid Suffolk District Council and representatives from 127 Trading, SEH French and Mid Suffolk Growth Ltd. Picture: Gregg Brown Photography
Cllr Julie Flatman (left) and Cllr Suzie Morley (right) marked the official start of work for the Needham Lake café and visitor centre with fellow councillors from Mid Suffolk District Council and representatives from 127 Trading, SEH French and Mid Suffolk Growth Ltd. Picture: Gregg Brown Photography

Cllr Julie Flatman said: "I am delighted we have been able to mark the start of this important project for Needham Lake.

"Not only will the new facilities, event space and café be a welcome addition for the local community, but the introduction of the Changing Places facility will make this an accessible attraction for everyone to enjoy."

The new building has been designed to complement the surrounding natural environment and boasts green features including bird boxes, solar panels, sustainable drainage, an air source heat pump and uses sustainable building materials as part of the build.

During the initial construction phase, the wooden play area which is next to the site of the new café and visitor centre may need to be closed to keep visitors safe.

The play equipment near the toilet block will remain open.

Simon Girling, director at SEH French Limited, said: “Needham Lake is one of our county’s gems and, once complete, the new café and visitor centre will improve the experience of residents and visitors alike.

"As a local firm, we are very excited to deliver this project and make Needham Market an even more attractive place to visit.

"We look forward to working on behalf of Mid Suffolk District Council to deliver its vision to not only boost the visitor experience, but also for local community groups to use and enjoy."

The café will be run by the team behind Cabbages and Kings, the café at The Mix in Stowmarket.

As the building work is underway, the team will continue to run the kiosk for visitors.

Keith Myers, manager of Cabbages and Kings, said: "It’s been really exciting to be involved in the planning for the new café and visitor centre and setting out how our vision for fresh, seasonal food will meet the needs of visitors to the area.

"Throughout the summer we will continue to serve hot and cold drinks and ice-creams before we can welcome customers to the new café."

The development at Needham Lake is part of Mid Suffolk District Council’s Invest in Needham Market programme.

Richard Gawthorpe, director of Mid Suffolk Growth Ltd, added: "We are really delighted to be part of this inspiring project, and excited that as Mid Suffolk Growth, we are able to support the delivery of a visitor centre, that has sustainable design at its heart, and which will perfectly complement the natural environment."

Mid Suffolk Growth Ltd is a joint venture between Mid Suffolk District Council and Norse Group and is the lead consultant on the Needham Lake project.

The Invest in Needham Market programme includes improving the connectivity between Needham Lake and the town as well as the development of new homes at the former Mid Suffolk District Council headquarters and middle school sites.

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk

Read more: All the latest news from Needham Market