REVITALISATION opt-ions for the ‘significantly under used’ £1.4million Marine Parade Shelters in Lyme Regis include a café, classroom and show place for organisations in the town.
The plans, set to be discussed at Lyme Regis Town Council’s strategy and policy committee meeting on April 30, come after councillors heard the facility is losing £26,000 a year, with the commercial areas – the market and performance areas and Langmoor and Lister Rooms – not being used enough.
Councillor Mark Gage said before the meeting: “It makes no sense to leave it underused.
“It is about setting the balance between the community and commercial and making sure the facility supports itself.”
Cllr Gage said the project was put in place by the previous council, adding: “I am on record as saying I think the community facilities were poorly designed and not very well thought through, which is why they are not very well used.”
Councillor Chris Clipson said before the meeting: “We are trying to make the best use of what we have got and give the best value to the visitors.
“We are not there to lose money but we are there to try and improve the facilities as best we can. We don’t always need and we don’t always wish to make vast sums of money in doing so.”
Even during the height of summer, the commercial areas were only used for 296 hours out of 2,976.
That is just 9.9 per cent of the time available.
The refurbished shelters, opened in July 2011, will lose around £26,000 every year until the council pays off its loan to West Dorset District Council in 2031.
Taking into account council tax, repairs and maintenance, the facility will make a loss of more than £645,000 by the time the loan is paid off.
Proposals could see the Langmoor Room as a classroom for visiting schools, colleges and community groups and the Lister Room as a café with a possible income of £10,400 – compared to £2,000 for both rooms last year.
However, a kitchenette area and service counter would need to be provided and planning permission obtained for the room to be used commercially.
Plans for the central Pavilion include transforming it into a ‘show place’ for organisations by continuing to stage major events.
Deputy town clerk, Mark Tredwin said a good example of how this would work will be demonstrated when the town celebrates the D-Day landings on June 6.
Mr Tredwin also noted that a more proactive approach to marketing the venues is needed.