JDDK Secure Planning Approval for Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre
Following a number of consultation exercises, Newcastle-based architects, JDDK Ltd, have secured planning permission from Newark and Sherwood District Council, for the £5.3m Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre on behalf of their clients, an RSPB-led consortium which includes the RSPB, the Sherwood Forest Trust, Continuum Attractions and Thoresby Estate.
The practice had been selected as architects for the project following previous projects for the RSPB, most prominently at the award-winning Saltholme Wildlife Reserve and Discovery Park Visitor Centre in 2009.
The planning application is both for the external masterplan which divides the site into two separate areas, one for the actual visitor centre and service area and the other for the main visitor car and coach park, partially as a result of the RSPB’s intention that physical access to the site and all its opportunities should be available to as many people as possible.
In essence, the design proposes an iconic building knitted into the existing community at Forest Corner so that almost a village square is formed between the new building and the existing cricket club, YHA hostel and the Arts & Crafts Centre.
The actual centre is a 558sq metre split level structure designed to lead visitors into Sherwood Forest as JDDK Principal Architect, Alison Thornton-Sykes, explained, “One of the main features of the Centre is its curved, twisted form, created by staggered roof beams, which reflect the forest environment and the “Trees that sheltered him” concept of Robin Hood. There are several different elements to this from creating an initial welcoming area for visitors with toilets, retail and recreation facilities to creating wilderness zones to give visitors a real sense of the ancient forest environment. Indeed, one of the most popular attractions of the whole area is the magnificent Major Oak, the approximately 1,000 year old oak tree where the Merry Men outlaw band supposedly slept.”
“The linear format pulls visitors through and down the 5m level change into the double height café space and out to the exterior amphitheatre sheltered by the overhanging canopy, an integral part of the roof.”
Ross Frazer, RSPB Project Manager, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have been granted planning permission to build this fantastic new visitor centre at Sherwood Forest. Prior to our application we took on board a lot of feedback from the local community, and hope that they are just as excited as we are to be one step closer to bringing that vision to life.”
Councillor Alan Rhodes, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council and Councillor John Knight, Culture Committee Chairman are thrilled at the news.
Councillor Rhodes added: “We have always been totally committed to plans for a new and modern visitor centre fit for the 21st century to promote the legend of Robin Hood and our world famous Sherwood Forest. Today’s news is exciting as it is bringing this vision one step closer to reality for everyone.”
Councillor Knight concluded: “This is great news for Sherwood Forest, for Robin Hood, local communities and for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to explore our historic country park each year. Our current visitor centre is well loved but does not provide a full visitor offer that people expect. This new modern centre will be wonderful for everyone and will bring a real boost to the visitor economy.”
The project will now start moving into its construction phase.