Norfolk lifeboat station set to get new boathouse, after planning permission granted

This is how the new RNLI boathouse at Wells will look. Picture: Ian Burt

This is how the new RNLI boathouse at Wells will look. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Long-awaited planning permission for a new boathouse for Wells lifeboat has been granted with work set to start in the autumn.

It will be built on higher ground close to the existing boathouse by the slipway at the end of Beach Road.

The RNLI charity submitted proposals to North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) for a new boathouse to replace the existing building last November, and planning permission was granted on Thursday, June 28.

The new lifeboat station plans were conceived not only to provide the extra space needed to accommodate the new Shannon lifeboat, but also to upgrade the volunteer crew’s facilities to a standard befitting the next generation of life-savers.

Additionally, space will be created within the station to enable greater use by the community and visitors.

As well as providing more space for the lifeboats and transporters, there will be improved crew facilities with showers, a drying room, inter-active training areas and conference facilities.

The public will also enjoy a more interactive experience with improved viewing areas.

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Lifeboat operations manager Chris Hardy said: “We’re very excited about the plans for the new station, although naturally we’ll be sad to say goodbye to the current boathouse. It has a long and distinguished history, and it has served us well in providing a base for saving lives at sea.”

Significant donations and legacies helped towards the cost of the new lifeboat and facilities.

Wells RNLI chairman Peter Rainsford said: “We’ve been working on this project for several years. It is great news for the crew, volunteers and the community that construction is about to commence.”

Work will take about 18 months and the new Shannon Class lifeboat will then come into service in 2020.

It was the devastating tidal surge that proved to be a pivotal moment for the RNLI in drawing up plans for the new boathouse.

On December 5, 2013, the current lifeboat station was engulfed by the sea and its eastern side nearly collapsed under the weight of the water, About 70 tonnes of sand and silt had to be hand-shovelled out by the crew through the night.