At the recent Community and Resources committee meeting on Monday 14th October Members were updated on the latest developments in plans to deliver the exciting new Visitor Centre for Northam Burrows. The new facility will be the focal point of the Country Park which covers 258 hectares lying within a designated AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), Unesco Biosphere Reserve and designated SSSI (site of special scientific interest).
The project, which has already received £1.2M of Coastal Communities funding towards its delivery, is being designed to create a new interpretation centre and activity hub for nature based tourism – tourism based on viewing and experiencing the natural environment. Amongst the many improved facilities the building will accommodate permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, a café, flexible community spaces, and business support for local firms and new tourism start-ups.
The update included the announcement that WSP have been appointed for the centre’s structural, mechanical and engineering elements. Their input has resulted in new methodologies being considered for the building including Nudura building sections, which when slotted together are filled with concrete. This makes the build process quicker but also improves energy efficiency. Changes have also been made to the floor space to accommodate a small aquarium area with further enhancements to the exhibition areas.
Councillor Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin (Lead Member for Community, Culture and Leisure) said: “This is a really exciting project which will create a centre of excellence for environmental education within one of our most important environments. I especially like the ambition of making more of our environment and developing tourism in the area in a sustainable way. The additional facilities and café will also be a real asset to the area and a great improvement on what is currently available.”
The current building is due to be demolished early next year with plans to inaugurate the new building in 2021. The project has also received widespread support from businesses and business organisations, as well as educational establishments. Research suggests over 180 businesses will be supported by the centre, and will create around 90 new jobs including 12 within the centre itself.