A NEW operator is set to take over the permanent tea rooms at Highcliffe Castle.

Openwide Ltd aims to start serving visitors from the permanent tea room in early July.

The company currently operates facilities on Bournemouth Pier, including the Pier Zip, RockReef and Key West Restaurant and Bar.

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

Cllr Mike Cox, BCP Council portfolio holder for finance, said: “Following a full tender process, a new permanent provider has been appointed for our award-winning site at Highcliffe Castle.

“The Highcliffe Castle Tea Rooms building has been closed since November 2022, and although the process for securing a permanent provider has not been as quick as we all would have liked, we are now pleased to finally add this attraction to a Castle visit.

“I and the team at the Castle would like to thank all our visitors and supporters for their patience during this delay and look forward to welcoming them to the castle for what is sure to be a busy and enjoyable 2024 season.”

Cllr Millie Earl, deputy leader of BCP Council and the portfolio holder for connected communities said: “Highcliffe Castle is a treasured site of local history in a unique and beautiful setting.

“BCP Council is lucky to be the custodian of the castle and part of this privilege involves ensuring that a tea room fit for this location is in place for visitors and local residents this summer.

“A permanent tea room was the only thing lacking from a recent visit I made to the castle, and I look forward to returning soon to see how this new addition has enhanced the experience available at our award-winning venue.”

Sarah Hunter, managing director of Openwide, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this contract and are looking forward to working closely with the BCP team at Highcliffe Castle to provide a quality catering and refreshment offer from the tearooms and to help promote events at the castle.

“It is an exciting opportunity for us to expand our business portfolio in the local area and we will be looking to work with local suppliers, engage with the local community and use our extensive hospitality experience to ensure we deliver a quality, sustainable catering offer to attract both locals and visitors to Highcliffe Castle and the grounds.”