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Warnham Local Nature Reserve

An artist's impression of the new Warnham Discovery Hub

An artist's impression of the new Warnham Discovery Hub

Warnham Discovery Hub

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.

Keep up to date with the project updates below, or sign up to our e-newsletter.

Despite these strange and challenging times, we are delighted to announce that the building of the new Discovery Hub has finally begun. Although the reserve is currently closed to the general public, construction has been allowed to continue as is being undertaken by two separate teams made up of family units who are following all government guidance on social distancing.

When finished the Hub building will boast a contemporary octagonal design created from wood with large panoramic windows offering breath-taking views across the millpond. It will also incorporate a new bird hide, as replacement for the former Tern Hide. A newly landscaped entrance garden, inspired by the poet Shelley, will complete the project.

This second phase follows the launch of the new Discovery Trail that opened in November 2019.  The full projects aims to be completed by Autumn 2021.

We’re keeping a photo diary of the build and will do our best to keep you up to show you how it’s coming on as the months progress.

We’d like to say a special thanks to the project team from the Friends of Warnham LNR who are continuing to work with us and support us throughout the project.

A montage of images showing the progress at Tern Hide

In preparation for the Discovery Hub building and Shelley garden, the next phase of essential ground work will begin on Monday 24 February.

A number of trees and shrubs in the garden area now have to be removed to enlarge the space and allow for further landscaping as part of the new project. Our resident chickens are also having to re-locate during the works.

For health and safety reasons the reserve will be closed while our contractors are on-site.
It is expected that this will take three days and the reserve is due to re-open on
Thursday 27 February. If you are planning to visit, please do check pages for the most up to date information prior to travelling.

Warnham Discover Hub garden mapAs part of the on-going ground preparation for the Discovery Hub Project, Horsham District Council’s countryside warden

team will shortly start work on de-commissioning the current pond.

The work, which is due to be completed before the end of February 2020, is being undertaken now to ensure the environmental impact is kept to a minimum and limit the amount of wildlife affected.

The pond will be emptied and the silt, freshwater invertebrates and the vegetative material will be moved to the nearby dipping ponds which in turn should improve their biodiversity.

The current pond was in desperate need of remedial work requiring a new liner and desilting and these issues will be addressed when it is reinstated in the autumn. In addition the pond will be extended, re-profiled and benefit from aquatic marginal planting which will help improve the overall habitat.

We appreciate that there will be a short term effect on the wildlife that uses the pond but we are taking the matter seriously and will take every measure to minimise the effect of this work wherever possible.

We intend to keep disruption to a minimum and would like to thank everyone for their understanding in advance.

To facilitate the revised entrance garden, path area and improved views onto the Millpond it is necessary that a selected number of young trees and a mature willow tree will be removed, however members of the team would like to reassure visitors and friends that the mature cotoneaster tree will be retained.

The work will be overseen by Horsham District Council’s Trees and Contracts Officer, Mark Pullen working in conjunction with Countryside & Ecology Manager, Jacob Everitt.

It is expected this work should take up to three days to complete and will take place prior to the bird nesting season at the end of February. During this time the Tern Hide will be shut and revised entrance access arrangements will be in place. Contractors are currently scheduled to be on site on from 12 – 14 February (subject to weather conditions) however we would urge all visitors to check the opening times page prior to travel if restricted access to the hide will affect your visit.

In September, the area will be re-landscaped as part of the Discovery Hub project with the establishment of a reedbed area, which will form a focal point to the hub and beyond.

We intend to keep disruption to a minimum and would like to thank everyone for their understanding in advance.

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.