Westonbirt Arboretum gets £500,000 for improvements

Westonbirt Arboretum The £3.6m project at Westonbirt Arboretum is due to be completed in 2013

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Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire has been given a £500,000 grant to help pay for a new visitor centre and restore a historic landscape.

The cash from the Biffa Award scheme will go towards a £3.6m project due to be completed next year.

A new educational area will be created at the national arboretum near Tetbury.

The current car park site, which is protected by English Heritage, will be returned to a landscape of rare grasses and wild flowers.

The Forestry Commission's director at Westonbirt, Simon Toomer, said: "When people currently arrive at Westonbirt they are greeted at a tiny admissions booth, with no real sense of direction or importance of the arboretum they are about to enter.

"The developments planned as part of the project will enable visitors to park, pay on foot through the new Welcome Building and find out all about the trees, history and what they can see before they venture off into the arboretum."

Construction of the new Welcome Building is planned for late 2013. Work on the new car park is due to begin in January.

The Biffa Award scheme gives grants to community and environmental projects across the UK.

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