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The Forestry Commission is making plans and seeking funding for a new ecofriendly visitor centre at Alice Holt Forest on the Surrey Hampshire border just outside Farnham, Surrey. The forest centre has been redesigned to provide better facilities to meet the needs of the 300,000 visitors each year and is hoped to be built in the next five years.
The plans include a new central visitor building, larger education centre and dedicated cycling centre. All buildings will be constructed entirely of timber from sustainable sources, with cedar roof shingles and glass windows used to make maximum use of natural light. A woodfuel boiler will also be installed to heat the buildings using wood as a source of renewable energy.
The existing café, classroom and industrial workshops were built over thirty years ago to satisfy a growing demand for outdoor recreation and education in a woodland environment. Nowadays these buildings are completely inadequate for the volume of visitors and 12,500 school children and adults who use the education centre each year.
Karen Guest, Alice Holt Forest Development manager, said:
“People love coming to Alice Holt and we want to ensure people have facilities at the forest centre that make them feel welcome. Back in August 2007 we asked our visitors what they wanted at Alice Holt and they asked for better facilities, such as, toilets and changing areas. These suggestions were our starting point. The designs were made sensitively and are in keeping with the forest surroundings, so we hope our plans will enable friends and families to continue to enjoy and explore the forest in the future.”
Last year temporary buildings, including a disabled toilet, were introduced to enable visitors to continue to enjoy the woodland over the next five years. The plans for better permanent facilities will offer friends, families and community groups more opportunity to make the most of Alice Holt Forest as a place to meet, play, learn and exercise. The new development will also be more accessible for disabled people.
Alice Holt Forest is a diverse and ancient woodland with over eight miles of way-marked trails. There are currently no plans to create any new car parking areas or to clear any trees to make way for the new buildings.
The Forestry Commission hopes to build a new education centre on the hard standing adjacent to the existing classroom. This will provide three classrooms and toilets for school children. A new central visitor building that provides information, toilets, indoor and outdoor café space, a community room, retail area, ranger base and first aid room will also be built. The existing industrial workshops will be converted into a new cycling centre that provides cycle hire reception, cycle maintenance workshop, club room, toilets, showers and changing rooms.
The planning application is to be submitted at the end of September and the Forestry Commission is keen for people to give their views on the proposals. If you would like to comment, please write to the Alice Holt Forest Project, Forestry Commission, Bucks Horn Oak, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4LS or email email@example.com
Notes to Editors
The Forestry Commission manages over 250,000 hectares (600,000 acres) of woodlands in England. Most of this land is open for public access and the Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in the country. For further information visit www.forestry.gov.uk/southeastengland
The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.
Alice Holt Forest Development Manager
T: 01483 326263