Plans for a new landmark visitor centre on the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site, costing £10.5 million and aiming to immerse people in the surrounding landscape, have been announced at Northumberland National Park.
Architects have been appointed to explore proposed site The Sill, at Once Brewed, near Steel Rigg, where a central development is expected to incorporate a youth hostel. The existing facilities were built during the 1960s.
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“The Sill project will place all of Northumberland National Park and the wider landscapes of the north-east on the global map for a whole new set of reasons,” said Tony Gates, the Chief Executive of the National Park Authority, pledging to use the “unique and magnificent geographic and geological significance” of the park as a driving force for the designs.
“This area has built up a fantastic international reputation for its association with Hadrian’s Wall and Roman history, but it is often also the broader landscape which makes a lasting impression on visitors and inspires them to return.
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“The building itself will offer a fantastic educational asset and resource for the North East and UK as a whole, as well as very real gains in terms of attracting visitor numbers and spend, creating new jobs and boosting the local economy.
“Our aim is nothing short of transforming how people engage with landscapes.”
Around 60 full-time jobs are expected to be created by the centre, with planners urging local communities and businesses to help perfect the proposals ahead of a bid for final Heritage Lottery Fund support at the end of 2013.
Local materials, heather-thatched pitched roofs and whinstone walls form part of a blueprint with an emphasis on sustainability. A café, retail spaces and rooftop viewing galleries will be included.