PLANS have been submitted for a new lifesaving centre on Croyde beach, which will be set into a hillside.
The single-level distinctive design has been drawn up by Jonathan Rhind Conservation Architects to house Croyde Surf Life Saving Club (CSLSC) and RNLI lifeguards.
If approved, the building will include an emergency access ramp, and will be sited at the north end of the beach, built into the coastal slope, under the lime kiln field.
At the moment CSLSC uses a storage barn some way from the beach along Moor Lane which is leased from the National Trust.
The RNLI's seasonal beach patrol is provided from a small hut at the north entrance to the beach and is erected and dismantled each year.
Both organisations have highlighted problems with their existing facilities which include vehicles getting stuck while trying to take casualties off the beach, the problem experienced by rescue helicopters landing on the beach during busy days, Beach Road becoming very congested in the summer and no lookout during the winter months.
The proposed centre will provide the means of maintaining an unobstructed route for emergency vehicles onto the beach. Also proposed is an external elevated observation area with outside staircase.
And rescue helicopters will be able to land in the field next to the site.
The proposed building would have enough storage facilities for four patrol vehicles and rescue water craft, inshore boat trailers and quad bikes, rescue boards and skis, flags, signs and training equipment.
There will be a first aid room close to the beach, training and meeting areas for CSLSC members, and a changing area close to the beach with external showers.
North Devon Council planning officer Bob Pedlar said the centre would be buried into the slope and largely hidden from view with a grass roof.
The scheme is a local partnership between the National Trust which owns the land and Parkdean which owns the beach as well as the land on which the access ramp would be built.
Richard Windsor, who is managing the project for CSLSC, said: "We are looking at creating a building for the whole community, one that has strong ties to local people, businesses and other charities.
"If we do get the go-ahead it will only have happened because of the tireless hard work of countless local people and organisations, so it's only fitting that it becomes a place for all those people to come together.
"This is the culmination of thousands of hours of work by our members, stretching back over more than 15 years and we are incredibly excited about the plans."
The scheme has received funding support through the Rural Development Programme for England via Leader 4 North Devon. It is also being part-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for European Development, being delivered with Defra as the managing authority. The local parish plan has also identified the need for improved surf lifesaving club facilities.
The application has been submitted by Georgeham Parish Council which means the fee is halved and the VAT can be claimed back by the council which, in turn, will give that sum to CSLSC to support the project. Council chairman John Symonds said there was a lot of support within the local community for facilities for youth and the proposed centre would be an asset for Croyde.