Funding boost for new centre at Hastings Country Park

Cllr Fitzgerald with straw bales
Cllr Fitzgerald with straw bales

The council has been awarded £890,000 towards building a new visitor centre in Hastings Country Park.

The authority is working with Groundwork South and the School of Natural Building in order to contruct the facility, which will be part of a major European funded project to construct public buildings from straw.

Partners submitted an initial expression of interest to Interreg North West Europe for the programme in February 2016 and were one of only four projects out of 79 applicants under the Low Carbon funding stream invited to submit a further, full application.

The grant is worth £540,000 to the council and its partner Groundwork South and £350,000 for the School of Natural Building.

Councillor Colin Fitzgerald, the council’s new lead member for environment and place, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news for the council. We have had an ambition to build a new centre at Hastings Country Park for a number of years and with our partners Groundwork South have been working on grant applications to realise this ambition.

“We hope to have the new centre open to the public early in 2018. The new centre will be a completely sustainable straw building; a fitting building for the country park and its visitors and one which our residents can rightly be proud of.”

Gary Jacobs, executive director of Groundwork, said: “I’m thrilled our partnership has been successful in securing this grant award, despite the tough competition.

“We believe a first-class nature reserve deserves a first-class visitor centre. Working with the Friends of Hastings Country Park and the council we can now take forward this exciting opportunity to build one of the first public straw bale buildings in the UK.”

Eileen Sutherland, from the School of Natural Building (SNaB), said: “This project is a significant milestone on the road to sustainable building across north-west Europe.

“By working with other European specialists, SNaB will deliver workforce skills and curriculum innovation in the field of natural building.”

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