Plan for Hengistbury Head barn visitor centre submitted

Image caption,
The new visitor centre in the converted barn would be run by volunteers

Plans for a visitor centre at a Dorset nature reserve have been submitted.

The borough council has been planning to create a £1m visitor centre at Hengistbury Head for the past 10 years.

People can comment until 3 December on plans to convert the thatched barn at the site to house displays about the area's archaeology and wildlife.

The council said developers will provide £300,000 while an application for a £420,000 Lottery grant will be made in February.

'One million visitors'

The remaining money for the project could come through government funds.

If approved for funding, the new centre would be completed in 2012.

It will feature displays showing the nature reserve's plants and animals and their habitats.

The centre will also have archaeology exhibitions about Hengistbury Head, chronicling its history from 60 million years ago when it was beneath a tropical sea, through to the Stone Age when humans hunted and camped there, to the Iron Age when it was an important trading port.

Sue Harmon-Smith, chair of the Hengistbury Head Supporter's Group, added: "Steeped in history and wildlife, Hengistbury Head is one of the most popular and important nature reserves on the South coast with around one million visitors annually.

"It makes sense that we should have a visitor centre and education facility on the site that we can be proud of."

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