Work starts on Northumberlandia visitor centre

October 4, 2013 | Brenkley News

Visitors to top North East attraction, Northumberlandia, will soon be enjoying a new visitor centre at the iconic park.

Construction started this week on the new visitor centre which will include a café and other visitor amenities.

The Land Trust, the national charity managing Northumberlandia, has recently secured funding from Banks Community Fund and Defra’s Regional Economy Grant, totalling £242, 000 to construct the visitor centre at the Northumberlandia site.

Alan Carter, head of portfolio management at the Land Trust comments, “The Park has had over 100,000 visitors in its first year.  The addition of a visitor centre and café will improve the overall visitor experience and allow us to attract even more people to the region.  We are therefore very grateful to the Banks Community Fund and Defra’s Regional Economy Grant for funding this work.”

Mark Dowdall; environment and community director at the Banks Group said, “I am delighted that work is soon to start on this important next phase of the Northumberlandia project which will add significant value to the visitor experience.  When we first developed our plans for Northumberlandia, we set out to deliver a new gateway feature for Northumberland with a unique and spectacular publicly accessible land sculpture as the centrepiece, providing a really special place for the local community and attracting new visitors to the region.  The Lady of the North and the number of visitors to the park are already meeting our initial expectations and I hope that these new facilities will attract even more visitors to the region.”

The visitor centre will be located in the woodland area and act as the gateway to the Lady of the North, providing visitors with key information about the landform and the local area. The centre will comprise of a café, shop and toilets and will be managed by Azure Charitable Enterprises.

Peter Elliott, chief executive of Azure Charitable Enterprises, said “Having been involved in the landform project from the outset, I am extremely enthusiastic at the prospect managing the new visitor centre and the many exciting opportunities that it will bring.”

The visitor centre is being constructed by Newcastle firm, Clearspace Buildings, much of which will take place off site. This allows the preparation of groundwork to be carried out  at the same time and significantly cut the overall construction time, meaning the centre should be open by the end of November.

As well as acting as a visitor centre and café for visitors to the site, it will also be available for a range of community activities, such as evening meetings, educational courses and a base for guided walks and talks.  This will enable the park to deliver even more benefit to the local community.

Northumberlandia is a unique landform sculpture of a reclining lady, designed by the world renowned architect and landscape designer, Charles Jencks. Made of 1.5 million tonnes of rock, clay and soil, she is 100 feet high, a quarter of a mile long and set in a 46 acre community park with free public access. She cost £3 million to construct, which was privately funded by The Banks Group and Blagdon Estate and is now under the stewardship of open space management charity, The Land Trust and managed on their behalf by Northumberland Wildlife Trust.

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