Bird spotters have given the thumbs-up to the new £1million visitor centre at Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve.
The enthusiasts were the first to see the spectacular building raised on stilts, with magnificent views across the natural coastline when doors opened to the public on Thursday.
It replaces the former visitor centre, which suffered extensive flood damage during the storm surge in December 2013.
Sandra Watson, from Nottingham, has a caravan in Skegness and went along with family and friends.
She said: “We come to Gibraltar Point whenever we are down and are members of the RSPB.
“We enjoy bird watching here and think the new visitor centre is lovely, especially now there is a café to go into.”
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust has worked with Lincolnshire County Council on the project, which is the latest for the 65-year partnership.
Gibraltar Point nature reserve was established in 1948-49. The new visitor centre replaces the one built in 1974.
It features a viewing platform above the cafe and shop.
A former coastguard house has also been renovated and will be available for meetings and functions.
Coun Colin Davie, executive member for economic development at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “This was an opportunity to make Gibraltar Point even more attractive to visitors – an opportunity that we have fully taken advantage of.
“The new visitor centre has been designed to make the most of the reserve’s stunning views, with expansive windows facing the dunes and sea, and a rooftop viewing deck.
“This is just one of a series of investments on the coast, which we are confident will help attract new visitors to the area.
“Combined with the new outdoor theatre space and North Sea Observatory at Chapel St Leonards, this improved attraction will help extend the traditional tourist season on the coast, providing a significant boost to the local economy.”
Paul Learoyd, chief executive of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, added: “The new visitor centre is a wonderful gateway to one of the country’s most important nature reserves. From the humble beginnings of a simple information kiosk opened in May 1963, we now have a visitor centre with commanding views of the nature reserve and with a number of features that reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.”
The project was funded by Lincolnshire County Council (£430k), the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust (£200k) and the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund (£420k).
Gibraltar Point nature reserve was established in 1948-49 with the first information kiosk installed in 1963.
The new visitor centre replaces the one built in 1974 and is of a series of investments on the coast to attract new visitors in addition to the 170,000 who are believed to have explored the reserve last year.
Raised on stilts to protect it from any future flooding, it features a viewing platform above the cafe and shop.
The centre will be open daily from 10am until 4pm.
For now, the menu will be limited, although there is an excellent range of cakes.
Dogs are welcome on leads on the decking.