Residents near Sherwood Forest are being reassured by county council bosses they will have their say on plans for a new visitor centre.
Nottinghamshire County Council last week signed a contract with an RSPB-led consortium to manage Sherwood Forest country park and develop and manage a new visitor centre.
The consortium partners are the RSPB, The Sherwood Forest Trust, Continuum Attractions and Thoresby Estate.
And the county council and the RSPB-led consortium say they will be engaging with all interested community groups, residents and organisations with the plans for the visitor centre.
The new visitor centre will be within the country park site boundary on Forest Road - but not on land within the national nature reserve, the council said.
Additionally, the cricket ground and the club will remain in place and the fairground which currently operates on the site at Forest Corner have been offered a new location close to Edwinstowe on county council owned land at Naish’s Field.
Peter Gaw, group manager within youth, families and cultural services, at the county council said: “We are keen to keep residents and community groups engaged as Sherwood Forest Country Park progresses with this exciting new chapter in its history.
“We are all extremely proud of our world-famous forest and we will be working with the RSPB-led consortium to fully consult with people to help our neighbours and communities to learn more about the proposals and gain their input and views on developing the plans.”
The RSPB-led consortium is now tendering for the design team and appointing a lead architect for the project. The design team will develop detailed plans in consultation with stakeholders and the local community and seek planning permission next year.
Details of community engagement opportunities within the local community to consult on the project will be announced in the coming weeks.
The county council has issued the reassurance after claims made by the Friends of Sherwood Forest, which had claimed that the development would place the cricket pitch and pavilion in danger.
The claims have been refuted by the county authority, as well as parish councillors and the club itself.
Derek Higton, service director for youth, families and cultural services at the county council added: “We were delighted to sign contracts last week with the RSPB-led consortium for the future management of the country park. It is a wonderful opportunity for the community and local economy to gain a high quality-visitor experience which will bring significant benefits to the whole area.
“As announced last week, the preferred location for the new visitor centre is on land within the existing country park site at Forest Corner and we will be working both with partners and the public as this project develops.
“The existing Sherwood centre [staying open until the new centre is opened during winter 2017] has to be removed from its forest site because it is positioned within a national nature reserve. The centre is no longer fit for purpose and the forest has to be restored at that site as directed by Natural England.
“Forest Corner was assessed independently amongst other options during the procurement process and identified clearly as the most appropriate location for the centre. It was chosen because it is ‘within 15 minutes walking’ access to the Major Oak, for example.”
For more information, go to www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/sherwood