New visitor centre to be built with straw bales at Hastings Country Park

Walkers in Hastings Country Park
Walkers in Hastings Country Park

A new contractor  to deliver the long-awaited Hastings Country Park visitor centre project is expected to be appointed when council leaders meet next week.

Next Monday (December 3), Hastings Borough Council’s cabinet is set to decide whether to award SIA Design and Build, a £660,000 contract to build a bespoke visitor centre within the country park.

If approved, the centre is expected to be constructed out of straw bales, in an effort to make the building both sustainable and energy efficient.

According to an officer’s report, the move comes after difficulties with a previous bidder – a consortium of specialist contractors and artisan builders – saw the council put the project back out for tender in September.

In the officer’s report, SIA Design and Build is described as a partnership of several straw bale companies, lead by a principle contractor ‘with extensive experience in sustainable buildings’.

The report says the partnership’s bid came ‘slightly under’ the £660,000 budget and scored highest on a quality-to-cost test. Two other bidders had also applied.

If approved, construction is expected to begin off-site this winter with on-site work due to start in Spring 2019. It is hoped the new centre would be open within the year, the report says.