A visitor centre at the Outwoods in Loughborough is set to open later this year following approval at plans committee last night (Jan 30).
Charnwood Borough Council submitted the application last year to convert the former ranger’s cottage into a café and visitor centre. Work is due to start in spring with the aim of the centre opening in the autumn.
Cllr Jenny Bokor, lead member for Loughborough said: “I’m really pleased the application to create a visitor centre has been approved.
“The ranger’s cottage has been largely unused for many years so it will be great to see it brought back to life to improve facilities for everyone who visits this ancient and much-loved woodland.
“I’m sure the café will be a popular destination for the many walkers and families who visit there and the centre will also give us a space for displays and other events. I’m looking forward to seeing work begin on the project and is opening later this year.
“We are committed to improving the Outwoods while ensuring we maintain its natural and historic character on behalf of the people of Loughborough. As well as the visitor centre, last year we opened a new £140,000 natural play area and events shelter and we recently began a 10-year project to restore native trees to the Outwoods.”
It is intended the visitor centre would include a café, toilets and space for displays. It would also be adapted to encourage bats to roost there through the inclusion of lead bat access points and flying space.
Estimated costs to create the centre are around £130,000 and it is expected a private operator would manage it.
Responsibility of the Outwoods lies with the Outwoods Management Committee which is a separate body to the Council. However, the Council effectively maintains the Outwoods working alongside the committee.
Cllr Hilary Fryer, chair of the committee said: “We’re looking forward to seeing work start on this project now the application has been approved.
“Having a visitor centre and café at the Outwoods will make a huge difference to our visitors and hopefully encourage even more people to come along and enjoy the ancient woodland.”
The Outwoods is 110 acres of ancient woodland to the south of Loughborough and is one of the oldest surviving woodland sites in Charnwood. It is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England, which means it is protected by law to conserve its wildlife and geology.