THANKS to three life-savers who left hefty legacies for the RNLI, building work on the much needed new lifeboat station in St Annes looks set to begin in the autumn.

But you don't have to wait until then to see it, because The Citizen can give you a sneak preview of how it will look with our exclusive photograph, here, of the 3D model for the £750,000 centre.

Frank Kilroy, honorary secretary for Lytham St Annes lifeboat station, said a new station was badly needed for the area as high silt levels in the sea have forced the lifeboat to take up temporary residence in the car park behind the Beach Cafe and be launched via a special ramp from the beach.

The RNLI conducted a coastal review in late 1998 which showed that the silt levels and shallow water was making it increasingly difficult for lifeboats to be launched. He said: "The situation was clearly not going to improve so between January and March 1999, trials were held to see if a special tractor and carriageway could effectively launch boats directly into the sea. There were no restrictions and in May the RNLI headquarters permitted us to set up a temporary compound behind the Beach Cafe where we still are today."

Various sites were investigated and in June last year the architects began drawing up plans for a new building behind the boating lake, but planning applications and various consent applications have been responsible for the delay until now.

The front of the new state of the art building will extend into the boating lake on the Promenade with a special boathouse at the rear for launching the lifeboat. As well as housing the control room there will also be a souvenir shop and a public viewing gallery.

Howard Richings, UK shoreworks manager, said the building is expected to cost in the region of £750,000, much of which has come from three legacies.

Although planning permission has been granted by Fylde Borough Council, the RNLI are in the process of negotiating a suitable lease and finalising details.

Mr Richings said: "It is great that the plans are finally coming to fruition and we hope the new station will serve the needs of the lifeboats for many years to come.