Whitegate Station's future secured
23 October 2018Cheshire West and Chester Council has agreed a 30 year Community Asset Transfer lease with the Whitegate Station Community group.
Whitegate Station in Winsford has been transformed into a community run Café with trike hire, craft workshops and space for small businesses.
The Station House was used by the Council’s Rangers Service until 2015 before being taken over by the Whitegate Station Community group in May 2015.
The group started with an initial six month tenancy to test their Neighbourhood Plan priority to use the Station House as a café and community shop, to use space for small businesses and to develop a workshop space in the goods yard for craft and leisure activities.
Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing said: “Following the café refurbishment by volunteers and a highly successful test period we received a business case requesting a full repairing and insuring lease of at least thirty years for the Station House building and toilet block.”
The business case identified the valuable community space for residents, also providing opportunities for volunteering, work experience and creating jobs.
The group has identified a number of improvements required to make best use of the buildings and outbuildings for the café use. The new plans incorporate a larger kitchen, a glazed ‘Victorian’ canopy to increase covered outdoor seating capacity and modern toilet facilities situated within the café perimeter.
Gary Cliffe, Community Group Director said: “Thanks to Cheshire West and Chester Council we have now secured the building for the next 30 years and are delighted to confirm that our planning application has also been approved.
“We have succeeded in our bid for funding from The Veolia Environmental Trust, their grant means that the café’s future as a community run project is secure, it also enables us to fund a much needed kitchen extension and new toilet block for visitors. We are also very grateful for the top-up funding provided by Whitegate & Marton Parish Council.”
The café has a 5 star rating from the Council Environmental Health team offering snacks such as sandwiches, paninis, soup, cakes and refreshments. Food is sourced locally wherever possible and fair trade and ethically produced products used when available.
The Whitegate Station Community Group was established to take forward the initial idea to bring Whitegate Station back into use for the benefit of the local community. It was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in May 2015. It is a not for profit organisation with volunteer directors. Any profits are used for the benefit of the community.
Councillor Gittins added: “The Whitegate Station Community group has worked with many local organisations; Petty Pool College students are gaining valuable work experience and office space was quickly let to a start-up business.
“They have also been exhibiting and selling artwork by local artists and started a service renting three wheel trikes to use on Whitegate Way.”
The station house is open weekdays 10am to 3pm, weekend and Bank Holidays 10am to 4pm.