A NEW caterer is being sought to fill an empty space at Highcliffe Castle.

BCP Council is searching for a new tender to provide a temporary catering service outside the castle.

The local authority is aiming to introduce the mobile occupant by February half term, ahead of a permanent occupant taking over the castle tea rooms between May and July 2024.

Highcliffe Castle Tea Rooms was closed in November 2022, and has remained empty ever since.

The closure was announced by BCP Council, which took over the site after the previous operators ceased trading around seven months prior.

In 2023, the owners of the Cliffhanger Restaurant were awarded a contract to run a catering service outside the castle through the spring and summer.

Bournemouth Echo: The temporary catering unit by Cliffhanger Cafe LtdThe temporary catering unit by Cliffhanger Cafe Ltd (Image: Cllr Andy Martin)

They operated a successful takeaway service from a separate pitch located adjacent to the tea rooms, and made use of the outdoor seating available at the castle.

However, this contract has now ended, seeing an empty space left outside the historic building.

A notice posted at the site by BCP Council said: “The temporary contract has ended.

“We will provide an update on the future position as soon as possible.

“We apologise for any inconvenience.”

The council said the search for a permanent occupier of the tea rooms site is ongoing, while an advert is open for the temporary position.

The temporary caterer would be located adjacent to the tea rooms, on the same pitch used by Cliffhanger Cafe Ltd.

Bournemouth Echo: Notice posted at the site by BCP CouncilNotice posted at the site by BCP Council (Image: NQ)

The advert reads: “Service is required seven days a week between the hours of 10am-4pm at a minimum.

"The trader may wish to extend these hours should they see fit in peak summer months and/or school holidays. 

“The supplier should provide a suitable self-contained vehicle that is unobtrusive and sympathetic to the surroundings.

"It needs to be moveable should the castle deem it necessary to relocate the additional catering for some events.”

The Daily Echo approached Cliffhanger Cafe Ltd to ask if it would consider applying for the permanent contract.

At the time of writing, the company had not responded.