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£800,000 woodland centre opens at Leigh's Belfairs Park
10:00am Thursday 12th September 2013 in News
A VISION to create a gateway to historic woodland finally became a reality as an £800,000 visitor centre opened at Belfairs Park, Leigh.
BBC Springwatch presenter Martin Hughes Games cut the ribbon at the long awaited opening of the Belfairs Woodland Centre, supported by hundreds of people eager to tour the new building.
The wooden-clad building introduces visitors to the 116- acre Daws Heath and Belfairs “living landscape”, a third of which is woodland.
Essex Wildlife Trust and Southend Council, along with many community groups and residents, have been working on the project since 2004.
Wildlife trust members and residents even raised £50,000 for the centre, which is set to be a focal point for visitors to educate them on the wildlife, history and heritage of the woodland.
John Hall, chief executive of EssexWildlife Trust, said it only came to fruition because everyone “came together” to make it happen. He said: “The building itself is like a gateway to people understanding this whole area.
“The centre is a fabulous focal point for the community. It will co-ordinate and champion the protection and management of a truly special, much loved part of Essex, where historic woodland is home to a superb diversity of wildlife. These woodlands are absol-utely amazing and are of national and international importance.”
Paul Jenkinson, parks technical officer at Southend Council, added: “This marks the end of one process which is the construction, and the beginning of something new. I’m really pleased the building is now opening.”
The innovative and environmentally- friendly building was designed by Colchester-based architects, Inkpen Downie, and built by T J Evers.
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