Horsham District Council is celebrating with the Friends of Warnham Local Nature Reserve, as plans for a new ‘Discovery Hub’ at Warnham Local Nature Reserve have been given the go-ahead.
The Council have been awarded some £278,000 by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development who support investment in public recreational infrastructure. The Council and the Friends of Warnham Local Nature Reserve are adding additional funds to the project with grants of £90,000 and £10,000 respectively.
The current site on Warnham Road, Horsham was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 1987 and has grown in popularity ever since. Already home to a small visitor’s centre and café, the addition of the ‘Discovery Hub’ will draw visitors from across the district and beyond.
Unique design and breathtaking views
The ‘Discovery Hub’, will boast a unique octagonal design created from wood and one-way glass. Large panoramic windows will offer breath-taking views across the millpond. The space will be used for both educational and leisure purposes and will tell the story of the industrial, natural and social heritage of this important nature and conservation reserve.
In addition, to the hub, a new hide will be constructed, replacing the existing tern hide, as well as a new discovery trail that will incorporate the whole reserve and a new entrance garden that will take inspiration from the works of noted local poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Councillor Jonathan Chowen, Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, said:
"We are delighted that the ‘Discovery Hub’ has been given the green light. The team have worked closely with the Friends of Warnham Local Nature Reserve, the general public and the funding authority to make a robust case for this important addition to the Horsham District.
“We want to encourage visitors old and new to come to the reserve and discover not only the wide variety of wildlife, flora and fauna that thrive in the wetlands, but also appreciate the important part that this land has played in shaping our district, from its historical links to the iron industry, to its modern day home for Herons and Kingfishers. Our aim is to inspire the next generation to protect the reserve and appreciate the impacts modern life can have on our environment."
The discovery trail is due to be completed by June 2019, with structural work on the hub scheduled to start towards the end of summer. Once underway, the project should take three months to complete with the reserve remaining open to the public for most of the time and disruption kept to a minimum.
The whole project is due to be completed and officially opened at the end of the year in celebration of the Horsham District Year of Culture 2019.