Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre unveils £250,000 development plan
A tourist attraction in the heart of the Shropshire Hills has unveiled plans for a £250,000 development project.
Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, in Craven Arms, wants to see a major investment in its meadows and the building itself, to improve its educational offering and encourage more people to visit.
The money will come from grants, donations and fundraising, and it is hoped the four-stage scheme will be completed within five years.
Centre manager Grant Wilson said: "Our first job when we arrived was to stabilise the finances, and we are no longer in need of financial support. The centre is now run as a charity.
"I would like to be in a situation in a few years' time where we have enough surplus to invest in the building and have enough surplus to plough back into charity work.
"We are starting a big funding bid for our new project."
The Outstanding Natural Project aims to build on the centre’s reputation, delivering four separate but complementary schemes.
Jade Marriott-Lodge, marketing and development manager, said: "The first aspect is the wetland project down in the bottom meadow. We are hoping to encourage wetland species and there will be bird hides so people can go and watch the wildlife activity."
The second element is to create an Iron Age hut and cook house, with a play area. Jade said: "There are so many hill forts in the area but none represent what a hut would have looked like as they have all gone. It will be in the shadow of Norton Camp, our nearest hill fort."
There will also be a a growing and horticulture project, supplying organic produce to the cafe and creating jobs.
The brand new cafe is itself the final piece of the puzzle, with the existing cafe earmarked for muddy boots and dogs.
"That's the five-year plan. It will be really exciting if we can get there," said Grant.
"We have already refurbished the toilets and redecorated the cafe.
"We want to hold public consultation to see if there are areas we have missed that people want to see improved."
Grow Cook Learn, the charity which runs the centre, hopes the project will leave a lasting educational and environmental legacy.
Jade added: "The cafe has been something everyone has wanted to do for years, to move it back to its original home in the heart of the centre.
"We had these four ideas and we were trying to decide which one to work on first, but it seems to make sense to plan to do them all together.
"The project will improve the site and the centre as an educational facility.
"It will be educating people with the wetlands and growing aspects, and linking the food history and landscape of the Shropshire Hills.
"It is probably one of the biggest projects the centre has seen and we are all really excited to get going on it."