A new Visitor Centre for Sherwood Forest will be part-funded with £500,000, via the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.
The RSPB-led consortium, working in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council, is responsible for the project to replace the current 1970s-built centre, which is costing more than £5 million.
The existing site will remain open until the new building is complete this summer. Work will then begin on sensitively taking down the old centre, which lies within a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the land will then be allowed to return to nature.
The D2N2 LEP has now agreed to invest £500,000 in the project, following approval by the D2N2 Infrastructure and Investment Board.
Other funders include Nottinghamshire County Council, Garfield Weston Foundation, Thoresby Estate and RSPB, with contributions to date totalling more than £4.5 million to ensure this eagerly anticipated project is a success.
Construction of a new Sherwood Forest visitors’ car park was completed in August last year, before work started on the new centre, which has been relocated to Forest Corner at the south-east edge of the forest.
The RSPB won a competitive tender in 2015 to build the new Visitor Centre and manage the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, along with partners Nottinghamshire County Council, Sherwood Forest Trust, The Woodland Trust, Thoresby Estate and Continuum Attractions.
The County Council’s Supporting Local Communities Fund is also providing funding for a brand-new children’s play area next to the centre.
The consortium aims to increase visitor figures steadily, from its current level of 350,000 per annum. Over the next decade, this rise could help to boost the local economy by up to £1 million per year in visitor spend and to create around 28 full-time equivalent jobs for the area.
D2N2’s economic strategy for its area includes having eight key sectors – ones where the D2N2 area already has or could develop an advantage over rival areas – one of which is the Visitor Economy, including tourism.
Michael Copleston, RSPB’s Programme Development Manager, said: “This is an incredibly exciting project, and one we believe will contribute greatly to the region’s visitor economy, as well as re-invigorating the care and protection this special landscape needs for many years to come.
“We want to welcome people here from around the globe, and help them appreciate what an extraordinary place this is – and by that I mean not just Sherwood, but the region as a whole. I’d like to thank the D2N2 LEP for their generosity, and for recognising our commitment to this area, which the RSPB is very proud to be a part of.”
Nottinghamshire County Councillor John Cottee, Chairman for Communities and Place Committee, said: This funding marks another milestone for this fantastic new visitor centre which, when opened in Summer 2018, will see the transfer of the management of Sherwood Forest Country Park from Nottinghamshire County Council to the RSPB-led consortium.
“The new centre will be another platform to promote the international icon of Robin Hood and our world-famous Sherwood Forest.”
Sajeeda Rose, D2N2’s Senior Manager for Growth Deal and Capital Programmes, said: “Sherwood Forest attracts people from all over the world, visitors whose spending is very important to the economy of the D2N2 LEP area.
“A major attraction needs a state-of-the-art Visitor Centre, which is why we are putting significant investment into this important project; one which will contribute towards growth of a D2N2 area key sector and the local economy.”