This is when the new visitor centre at Hastings Country Park opens
Hasting Country Park’s new visitor centre is set to open.
The Bale House, the new straw bale constructed centre is the first of its kind in Hastings and will contain information about the country park, including its habitats and local wildlife, Hastings Borough Council said.
It also contains a new café and merchandise supplied by local businesses.
The Bale House will be run and managed by Groundwork South, which is planning to host a series of events over the summer, as well as using the facility for educational purposes with visits from schools and community groups in the future.
The café at The Bale House opened last weekend, which saw around 200 visitors passing through.
The café is being run by Barry Ashley, The Grumpy Cook, and local firm Judge Sampson are overseeing the retail side opening soon.
The construction and interpretation were funded by Hastings Borough Council with grant aid from the Interreg North West Europe Programme (European Regional Development Fund), through the UP STRAW project and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
As well as The Bale House, which opens on Monday (July 19) to the public, the nature reserve is in the process of having brand-new welcome and information boards put in place by the Hidden Hastings Heritage (HHH) project, funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Cllr Maya Evans, lead councillor for environment at Hastings Borough Council, said: “It’s so exciting to finally see the brilliant new visitor centre open to the public.
“The building is incredibly unique, and it is great to see it focusing so heavily on sustainability as tackling climate change is such a huge priority for the council.
“I’d like to thank all the different teams and organisations who have been involved in the construction and management of this project.
“We also can’t wait to see how Groundwork South will use the building. We hope many local people will be able to take advantage of the new facility whilst exploring the beautiful nature reserve right on our doorstep.
“We’re also glad to have brand new information boards across the park which were greatly needed. Hidden Hastings Heritage does some wonderful work in the country park, and it’s great to see these boards being put in place just in time for The Bale House opening.”
Teresa Flower, area programme manager for Groundwork South, said: “Local people are central to the creation and development of the Bale House as a thriving hub.
“Volunteers will support the running of the Bale House, the maintenance of landscaping around the building and will be actively encouraged to be part of wider conservation and heritage volunteering and educational activities.
“We believe this opportunity to make Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve more accessible to the wider community while encouraging future generations to respect and value this unique landscape, is more important than ever as we move through Covid-19 recovery.”
People can keep up to date with The Bale House on Groundwork South’s Hidden Hastings Heritage website hiddenhastings.org.uk or social media channels, @hiddenhastings on Instagram and Twitter, and The Hidden Hastings Heritage Project on Facebook, or via Hastings Borough Council’s social media channels.
They can also find out more about the site on the council’s website: www.hastings.gov.uk/parks_gardens_allotments/parks/visitorcentre.