A new half-a-million pound café at a Halton beauty spot will help attract new visitors to borough, a council chief has said.

Halton Council's executive board has rubber-stamped a cash injection of £520,000 to build the café at Pickerings Pasture Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in Halebank.

The council will provide the initial outlay from its own capital budget but hopes to finance the project by applying to the Ineos Environment Fund to recoup the cash at a rate of £87,500 a year over seven years.

Once up and running, the café will be let to a franchisee on a 'full repair and insuring' lease, to avoid the council having to provide any further funding in the future.

Runcorn and Widnes World: Artist impression of the new cafe. Artist impression of the new cafe. (Image: PR)

At a meeting of the executive board held at the Municipal Building in Widnes yesterday, board member Cllr Dave Thompson, said: "I've always said there's a couple of things that define people's visit to open spaces and how long they spend there, and that's access to toilets and access to refreshments, and we're following the pattern which we've established elsewhere.

"A key thing we did with Phoenix Park was bringing the café in there, it's hard to imagine Victoria Park without the café and the same at Runcorn Hill (Park), and now we've got another facility, all of which is also a way to make money for the council as well.

"So there's there's nothing bad about this at all, it's all positive news and I think it'll be very well received by local people and for visitors from afar who will actually come and visit and spend time there."

Fist opened in the mid 80s, the Green Flag Award-winning reserve on Mersey View Road is one of the council’s busiest public parks and a popular destination for walkers and families.

A portable cabin operated by volunteers from the Friends of Pickerings Pasture group had occasionally hosted a pop up café, but a report to the board said it was more than 30-years-old and in 'poor condition'.

A plan to build a new café had been under discussion for several years but had to be put on ice due to the pandemic.