Plans to transform derelict building into visitor centre revealed
A planning application to convert a derelict former ranger’s cottage at the Outwoods in Loughborough into a café and visitor centre has been submitted.
Charnwood Borough Council has lodged the plan and says the project would help further improve facilities at the ancient woodland.
The building has been empty for a number of years and it is intended the visitor centre would include a café, toilets and space for displays. It would also be adapted to encourage bats to roost there through the inclusion of lead bat access points and flying space.
Cllr Jenny Bokor, lead member for Loughborough, said: “Earlier this year we opened our new play area at the Outwoods which has been well received and we are now looking to further improve facilities.
“We have had a double decker bus café at the Outwoods for a couple of years and it has been very successful thanks to the partnership with the operator, but a visitor centre would provide space for a café and more. It would also make better use of the empty building.
“The application must go through the usual planning process which will include the opportunity for people to have a say.”
Responsibility of the Outwoods lies with the Outwoods Management Committee which is a separate body to the council. However, the council effectively maintains the Outwoods working alongside the committee.
The centre will cost around £130,000 to create and it is expected a private operator would manage it. If the application is granted, work would start later this year with the aim of the centre opening next year.
The Outwoods is 110 acres of ancient woodland to the south of Loughborough and is one of the oldest surviving woodland sites in Charnwood. It is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England, which means it is protected by law to conserve its wildlife and geology.