A NEW cafe-on-stilts which aims to beat climate and rising sea levels is set to open next month.

Builders are putting the finishing touches to a replacement cafe and visitor centre at Lepe Country Park, which is visited by 300,000 people a year.

The new glass-fronted facility, part of a £2.7 million plan to transform the area, is being built on top of concrete columns to keep it safe from the sea.

Its predecessor closed on Sunday and has been replaced by a small kiosk selling hot and cold drinks and a range of snacks.

The kiosk will remain on the beach until the new facility opens.

A Hampshire County Council spokesman said: “Lepe Country Park’s new café, The Lookout, is due to open to the public in May.

"The Lookout has been built on a raised platform which will enable visitors to appreciate the picturesque views of the Solent whilst sitting back and enjoying a range of high quality food and refreshments.”

Four years ago the previous cafe suffered about £100,000 of damage after it was flooded by a ferocious storm that struck the south coast.

Plans to a new cafe and visitor centre were approved by the New Forest National Park Authority in 2016.

At the time senior members of Hampshire County Council, which owns the 120-acre country park, described it as a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity to upgrade the area.

Cllr Andrew Gibson, executive member for culture, recreation and countryside, said: “This is excellent news.

"Lepe Country Park is already popular with visitors, but this investment will improve visitor facilities further still, making more of its natural and historical features, and helping it become more financially self sustaining.

"This is part of a major investment from the county council, which represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform all five of our country parks including Lepe.”

The county council has contributed £1.85m towards the project, which has also received a £850,000 grant from the Enterprise M3 LEP Local Growth Fund.

The eastern end of the new complex includes a servery with outside tables on a terrace overlooking the sea.

Lepe played a major role during the build-up to the D-Day landings and evidence of its contribution to the invasion can still be seen.

The beach was used to build some of the huge concrete caissons that were towed across the Channel to form the famous Mulberry Harbour, which helped keep the troops supplied.