Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre facelift needs your support

COUNCIL bosses say they need outside support to develop a 21st Century replacement for the dated Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre in Edwinstowe.

Nottinghamshire County Council is set to appeal for partners to come forward with ideas, creativity and cash to help complete the project, which would see a new building develped across the road from the current one.

Coun John Cottee, county council cabinet member for culture and community services, said the council recognised the importance of the site and of the forest’s links with the Robin Hood legend.

“The present site is nearly 40 years old and, although well-loved, doesn’t provide the full visitor experience that people expect in 2011.

“County Council funds are limited and to build a visitor centre that the Forest and its famous legend deserve will need significant investment. Only by working with a partner we will be able to achieve our ambition and create a first class visitor attraction.”

The council has set aside £5.2m to replace the centre. But Coun Cottee said plans could change depending on the response to the appeal for partnership with private or public organisations.

The ill-fated project has suffered a number of set backs and delays.

In 2007, plans for a tree-themed design fell through after the project failed to win support from the Big Lottery Fund.

Last year, the county council’s decision to shelve the development to 2014 following funding cuts was criticised as short-sighted and misguided.

It is hoped a new centre would boost tourism by up to 150,000 visitors a year - to the benefit of local business to the local economy.

Any new centre would be an all-year-round, all-weather attraction with full disabled access.

The current visitor centre is located in the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve (NNR), a European Special Area for Conservation.

The county council agreed in 2002 to remove the visitor centre and car parking from within the NNR boundary by 2016 to help improve the conservation status.

Access to the Forest and the Major Oak will remain unchanged.

“Nothing is being ruled out at this stage and we are looking for expressions of interest,” added Coun Cottee.

Proposals to seek help will go before Nottinghamshire County Council’s cabinet at their meeting on 14th September.