Nottinghamshire County Council to begin search for external partner for Sherwood Forest

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Nottinghamshire County Council hopes to formally start its new search this autumn for an external partner to manage a new visitor centre and the country park at Sherwood Forest.

It is looking for a prospective partner organisation which can develop and operate a visitor centre and also be effective stewards for the country park.

The council believes that working with an external partner can provide the most effective way forward for the future management of Sherwood Forest country park, bring in significant income for the visitor economy in Nottinghamshire, reduce revenue costs and protect the historic forest’s natural environment.

Council bosses are also proposing to increase the £1.8m already allocated to the project up to a total of £4.3m to underline its commitment to the project.

The vision is in line with the council’s Redefining Your Council strategy - ensuring it can deliver services that the people of Nottinghamshire value in a sustainable way.

It was confirmed today (Tuesday) that the council will begin the formal tendering process and aims to secure a partner organisation by the end of summer 2015, with a view to the new visitor centre being open to the public in summer 2017. The council has met a number of potential partners over the summer period through ‘soft-market testing’ and there has been serious interest from a variety of different organisations.

Coun John Knight, committee chairman for culture, said: “The county council wants to protect, preserve and enhance the ecology and heritage of Sherwood Forest, further promote its national and international reputation and have a modern visitor offer that reflects the status of the forest and Robin Hood.

“Over the summer period, we have already had strong interest from numerous organisations about working with the county council to achieve our vision.”

It is hoped there would be a ‘Bidder’s Day’ in November providing a briefing and information event about the council’s vision, with shortlisting to take place in early 2015, followed by further dialogue with shortlisted bidders, before final tenders are produced in the summer and the final contract awarded in July or August.

The council’s culture committee will consider proposals to launch the formal tendering process at its meeting on 21st October.