Councillors look set to approve spending £520k to build a new café at a Halton beauty spot.

A meeting of Halton’s Full Council is pencilled in for next Friday at Runcorn Town Hall, where members are poised to approve spending the cash on a facility at Pickerings Pasture Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in Halebank.

The proposals have already been signed off by Halton’s ruling Executive Board, but still need the backing of Full Council, with officers recommending approval.

A report to members said there is currently a portable cabin at the site which has public toilets and meeting rooms. Pre-Covid, the Friends of Pickerings Pasture volunteers operated an occasional pop up café at the site, but the cabin is more than 30 years’ old and the council said it is in ‘poor condition’.

Runcorn and Widnes World: Interior view of Pickerings Pasture cafeInterior view of Pickerings Pasture cafe (Image: Planning documents)

A new building would be advertised as a franchise opportunity, with income helping support the upkeep of Pickerings Pasture. If the £520,000 is provided from the council’s Capital Programme and funded over seven years, the financing cost would be £87,500 per annum.

Subject to councillors’ approval, the intention is to submit an application to the INEOS Environment Fund for £87,500 for a period of seven years to cover the capital financing costs.

A report to the council said: “The new café facility would be advertised as a franchise opportunity in common with the facilities that already operate in that way at Phoenix Park, Runcorn Hill Park and at Victoria Park.

“All of these facilities generate income for the council which is used to offset the running costs of its public parks.”

The report said it would also provide a boon to the boroiugh’s economy.

It added: “The operator of a café facility will need to employ new staff and train them accordingly.

"The facility will also need to procure supplies and services locally. The existing franchised facilities within the council’s public parks have created new jobs that are stable and secure.”