Local Consultation Planned for Venture
Plans for a new visitor centre for the Avalon Marshes, which include the Trust’s Shapwick Moor reserve, will be developed with strong local input following the award of £37,000 from The Local Action for Rural Communities fund in the Somerset Levels and Moors, managed by Somerset County Council.
The Avalon Marshes Centre on Shapwick Road will provide improved facilities for visitors to the Avalon Marshes area which is recognised internationally for its wildlife and archaeology, and includes a number of National Nature Reserves.
A six-month consultation has been commissioned to ensure local people are involved in the development of a new centre with the aim of agreeing an affordable new design by the end of September 2012. The partner organisations, including the Hawk and Owl Trust, Natural England, the RSPB, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Somerset County Council, English Heritage and the Environment Agency, are committed then to seek funding to create the new facility.
Volunteer and project chair Rod Leslie said:
“We are taking a new approach to the development of the centre, involving local people from the start of the design process. This is such a special place and a great opportunity for the area that we are determined to get it right with an intensive consultation.
“With the Avalon Marshes attracting large numbers of visitors we hope the centre will help maximise the economic benefits this brings, making links with locally produced food, arts and crafts, and activities like cycling and guided wildlife watching. The centre will need to be self-financing and we are keen to explore opportunities with local businesses.”