Bright new chapter for Sherwood Forest Country Park
Nottinghamshire County Council is delighted to announce that contracts have been signed with an RSPB-led consortium to build a new visitor centre and manage the world-famous Sherwood Forest Country Park.
The consortium comprises the RSPB, the UK’s leading conservation charity, working with Thoresby Estate, Continuum Attractions and The Sherwood Forest Trust.
The legally binding agreement seals the deal for the £5.3m project – with major investment to build a new visitor centre, bring a huge boost to the region’s visitor economy and protect and preserve the unique and impressive natural habitats of Sherwood Forest Country Park.
Councillor John Knight, Committee Chairman for Culture, at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “This is a significant and exciting moment for our world-famous Sherwood Forest country park, Robin Hood and the Major Oak. We are delighted to be working with the RSPB which has a strong reputation for its excellence in conservation management and delivering award-winning visitor centres nationally. The wider consortium brings a wide range of expertise in many different fields – we are proud of our iconic forest and look forward to an exciting new chapter for Sherwood.”
The county council will remain responsible for running the current visitor facilities and country park through the design and development phase until the new centre opens. The county council has also stipulated that safe and free access to the Forest will be maintained by the RSPB and its consortium of partners.
The RSPB-led consortium will now move forward with the planning phase of the project by tendering for the design team and appointing a lead architect.
The design team will develop detailed plans in consultation with stakeholders and the local community and seek planning permission next year.
Construction could then start on site in December 2016 with the new visitor centre open to the public by winter 2017. The visitor centre would be located at Forest Corner, close to Edwinstowe village – providing a stunning gateway to historic Sherwood Forest for all.
Today’s event will feature Nottinghamshire County Council Leader Coun Alan Rhodes, Culture Committee Chairman Councillor John Knight, Robin Hood (the county’s own VisitEngland Tourism Superstar Ade Andrews), and the following members of the RSPB-led consortium: Michael Copleston, RSPB, Area Reserves Manager – North Midlands; Kevin Smith, Continuum, Group Attractions Director; Nick Brown, Thoresby Estate, Resident Agent and Dr Patrick Candler, Chief Executive, The Sherwood Forest Trust.
Speaking on behalf of the RSPB-led consortium, Michael Copleston said: “The RSPB is delighted to reach the significant milestone of officially signing the contract. Our consortium is deeply committed to delivering a bright future for Sherwood Forest, and we look forward to enhancing the conservation of the National Nature Reserve and developing a first-class visitor facility for the people of Nottinghamshire and beyond.
“Our consortium combines the vital ingredients and proven track record to deliver this project, particularly with the UK’s leading conservation charity, the RSPB, guiding and working with the single dedicated and local conservation and heritage charity, The Sherwood Forest Trust, the long-term landowner, Thoresby Estates, and the nationally renowned heritage attractions operator Continuum Attractions.
“We are really excited to be taking this forward and will now work towards the design and planning of the new facilities.”
Following completion and opening of the new visitor centre, county council country parks staff will transfer to the RSPB. Remediation work would then begin returning the current country park visitor centre site to the forest, in accordance with directives from Natural England, as it is situated within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The scheme will reduce costs in line with the county council’s Redefining Your Council strategy and is projected to save the county council between £7m and £8m over the course of the 20-year contract with the RSPB, as well as delivering new, state of the art visitor facilities.
Find out more about the Sherwood Forest visitor centre and country park on the county council website: www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/sherwood
PHOTO (L – R): Robin Hood (Ade Andrews), Nottinghamshire County Council Leader Councillor Alan Rhodes, Culture Committee Chairman Councillor John Knight, Patrick Candler, the Sherwood Forest Trust, Michael Copleston RSPB, Kevin Smith, Continuum and Nick Brown, Thoresby Estate