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New visitor centre for Alice Holt Forest

Alice Holt Forest Visitor Centre

The first phase of a £1 million project to construct a new eco-friendly visitor centre at Alice Holt Forest has reached completion.

The centre has been designed to provide improved facilities in order to meet the needs of its ever increasing visitors, and boasts an information centre, a visitor base and a commercial area. Additional features include a first aid room and male and female washroom facilities.

Work began on Phase One of the project in July 2012 and reached completion in March 2013. Mansell was the main contractor on the Alice Holt Visitor Centre project, whilst Dejardin Design provided all architectural services.

Civil and structural consulting engineers, ABMH Ltd, were involved in the pre-tender preliminary design of both civil and structural elements of the project. ABMH Ltd provided advice on the project, and then following the appointment of Mansell as the main contractor, ABMH Ltd was appointed as an advisor through the construction phase.

A second phase is being planned and will comprise the construction of a café, a community room –with an outside veranda – a cycle centre and an education centre. Funding for the project was provided by the Forestry Commission.

Iain Skinner, Forest Enterprise England, said:

“Alice Holt is a Forestry Commission forest which attracts 400,000 visits a year and has an on-site cafe, cycle higher facilities and a Go Ape course.

“The site has grown over the last 30 years, so within the last two years we have been in discussions to decide how best to serve the visitors. The feedback was very positive, but the discussions highlighted that more facilities were needed, which led to the creation of this new and improved visitor centre.”

The single-storey building has been constructed from timber, with a shingle roof and larch cladding. The centre has been built on concrete foundations, includes a bio-mass boiler and under floor heating, and all of the timber used on the project is from sustainable sources.

In addition to the construction work on Phase One of the project, some landscaping work was also completed. Landscaping work included the installation of seating areas, along with some planting and gravel paths.

Iain said:

“The main criteria for constructing this building was to keep it simple, cost effective and robust. We have quite a large amount of disabled visitors so we had to ensure that all of our changing areas were fully equipped to cater for their requirements and that’s exactly what we have done.

“This is the largest investment that the Forestry Commission has made in a very long time and for visitors coming to Alice Holt Forest they will now have a place where they can access information about the site.

“This is the first phase of investment in the woodlands for the long term and I’m pleased to be a part of this project.”

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