A NEW station to house Swanage RNLI’s next lifeboat has been given the go-ahead by Purbeck District Council.

Work should start in autumn 2014 to house a 25-knot all- weather Shannon class life-boat, the newest craft in the fleet.

The Poole-based charity submitted plans for a new £3.5million boathouse in May to replace the existing building and the project is expected to take a year.

In 2016 Swanage RNLI’s current all-weather Mersey class lifeboat Robert Charles Brown will be nearing the end of her operation life and will be replaced by a craft offering improved speed and manoeuvrability, with water jet propulsion. The craft is larger than the Mersey and needs a bigger lifeboat station.

It will also provide a changing and shower room for the volunteer crew, training room, workshop, office and base for the D-class inshore lifeboat.

Detailed designs are yet to be finalised and a substantial legacy will provide a large contribution towards the cost.

Local fundraisers are well over half way through their appeal to raise a further £200,000 and more activities will take place during Lifeboat Week from August 8-17.

Neil Hardy, Swanage lifeboat operations manager said: “We’re delighted that the plans have been approved and look forward to an exciting new stage in the long and rich history of lifesaving in Swanage.

“Naturally we’ll be sad to say goodbye to the current boathouse when the time comes.

But it’s time to look to the future and to the modern and upgraded facilities the new building will provide for the volunteer crew.”

Richard Weeks, RNLI divisional operation manager said: “The new lifeboat station plans were conceived not only to provide the extra space needed to accommodate the new Shannon lifeboat, but also to a standard befitting the next generation of lifesavers.”

The building will have an eco-friendly ground source heat recovery system and will include a small souvenir shop.