Joint effort secures Discovery Centre for Combe Valley Park

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Combe Valley Countryside Park now has a brand new Discovery Centre and Community Cafe.

The Centre, which was officially opened last Saturday, is being seen as the first stage of a number of projects which will transform the park.

Combe Valley Countryside Park Discovery Centre and Community Caf� opening. Photo by Sid Saunders SUS-160516-053437001

Combe Valley Countryside Park Discovery Centre and Community Caf� opening. Photo by Sid Saunders SUS-160516-053437001

Funding has already been secured to create a children’s play area.

The Discovery Centre comes as a result of a joint effort between local authorities in Hastings and Rother, East Sussex County Council and other agencies.

With solar panels on the roof, the Combe Valley Countryside Park Discovery Centre and Café will generate as much energy on site as possible, while the building itself is formed of three upcycled shipping containers.

The centre will function as a community café and information point for park visitors, a meeting space for local groups and a private hire event venue. The move is part of a long-term strategy to turn the park into a leisure destination and help residents get the most out of their local environment.

Environmental charity, Groundwork South have supported the development of a financially sustainable model of park management by setting up a not-for-profit, ‘Community Interest Company’ (CIC) involving representatives from a wider range of organisations with an interest in the Park including local authorities, statutory agencies, local businesses, landowners and community groups.

The Centre was opened by Rother Council chairman Jimmy Carroll and attended by Hastings Mayor Bruce Dowling.

Cllr Carroll said: “The history of the park dates back to 1993, when it was part of the strategic framework to provide green space between Hastings and Bexhill.

“It serves a population of 22,500 people and provides opportunities for cycling, bird-watching and nature activity.

“Development is ongoing and further improvements will be made as funding becomes available.”

Cllr Angharad Davies, chairman of the board of directors, said: “It is a considerable achievement and this is going to be a good hub and a great asset to the park.

“It has been a joint enterprise and we have had tremendous help and support from the Friends of Combe Valley. We are also indebted to Sussex Wildlife Trust, who have partnered us from the start.”

Hastings councillor Mike Howard said: “This is the first stage of lots of things we want to do at the park.”

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