Northam Burrows – new visitor centre given green light

New designs for the exciting new Northam Burrows Visitor Centre have been given the green light by the planning committee following a unanimous decision to approve the latest design drawings for the centre. The plans mirror a revised approach to the build which will see the modular sections for the new café built off-site as Covid-19 cast a shadow over the timescales for the previous plans. The modifications mean that the centre can be delivered in time for its planned opening in June 2021 without jeopardising the time-limited grant funding for the scheme.

The new facility will be a focal point within the 254-hectare Country Park and will sit within a designated AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), UNESCO Biosphere and designated SSSI (site of special scientific interest). The project will transform the existing building, which has stood largely unchanged since it was built in 1984. The interior will boast enhanced exhibition spaces, a multi-purpose education room and an accessible changing places facility as well as a small shop and offices for the rangers. The new café will sit to one side of the complex with panoramic views, outdoor decking and seating as well as an all-important food and beverage outlet, which the old building wasn’t able to accommodate. Additional toilet facilities will also be incorporated into the unit.

The project has already been funded by a £1.2M grant of Coastal Communities funding and as well as improved educational facilities will create new job opportunities at the complex as well. The wooden cladding, non-reflective roofing and other materials have all been chosen to minimise the impact of the building within the sensitive natural landscape. It’ll also be bursting with energy efficiency upgrades, which will reduce the environmental impact compared to the older and now less efficient structure.

The next steps will involve a decommissioning of the existing offices and ancillary spaces with building work due to commence on the site in early January next year. The new designs were supported by the AONB and Natural England with the officer report noting the AONB welcoming the “enhancement the centre will bring to the visitor experience”.

Lead Member for Leisure – Councillor Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin said:

“I am so pleased and excited about the new Burrows Visitor Centre plans which have been unanimously approved by councillors of the plans committee. This will be a fantastic upgrade for visitors to the Burrows to enjoy it will allow us to offer so much more in the way of education facilities, as well as a unique location to refuel with food and drink, which many people have often requested. It is so nice to have something positive to look forward to in 2021 after all the uncertainty so many people have experienced lately as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It will be a significant part of our celebrations next year and a welcome boost for the local economy.”

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