The £3m investment into a new watersports centre in Ilfracombe has taken another step forward as North Devon Council awards a construction firm the contract to build the project.

After a successful tender process, Pearce Construction have been contracted by the council to take on the build, which is set to be a state-of-the-art marine leisure hub. The watersports centre will include community facilities for local clubs including storage for boats, a slipway providing safe and easy access to the water within a given tidal range, disabled access and facilities, and a café with stunning views of the harbour.

Initial building works will start on site in early April, with major works commencing in June. This will involve construction of a new sea wall eight metres beyond the existing one. Local residents will shortly receive additional information on the construction process and the need for the site to be secured during the main part of the works, which will include the temporary closure of the existing slipway.

The centre's primary purpose is to provide new homes for three local watersports clubs, Ilfracombe Gig Club, Y-Sail and Ilfracombe Canoe Club. This new facility will allow them to extend their memberships to the wider community and offer taster events to local residents and visitors.

Another important aim is to provide a site which can be used by the wider community, enabling the public and organised groups to pre-book watersports activities through a new Commercial Watersports Communications Hub.

The hub will enable local businesses with links to watersports to be part of the centre, offering use of the slipway, storage, shower and welfare facilities, as well as designated trailer parking and interactive advertising/booking facilities -either as part of the Larkstone site or within the wider northern Devon community.

Local businesses will be encouraged to sign up to the hub to enable them to access the facilities and make the most of the opportunity to encourage watersports in north Devon. To ensure compliance with harbour bye-laws and health and safety, use of the slipway will be managed by the Harbour Master and her team. 

Jon Triggs, head of Resources at North Devon Council says: "I am very pleased to announce that Pearce Construction have been chosen as the contractor for this project. We are proud to be significantly investing in Ilfracombe and once completed the watersports centre will be a real investment and asset for Ilfracombe as well as a much needed boost for the North Devon economy and tourism. We're so lucky here in North Devon to be surrounded by fantastic coastline, so the new centre will be a real opportunity for both our residents and tourists to get out there and experience this from the water.”

The council will shortly begin advertising for an operator to run the café facility, with the aim of getting them on board during the build period so the café can be fully operational as soon as the facility is open.

Residents can stay up-to-date with news and developments on the project by following the council's Facebook, Twitter  and Nextdoor pages. It is hoped work will be completed on the project in early summer 2022.