Regarding the letter in the Chad on the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre, and claims of a lack of consultation to date.
Whilst any consultation will be welcome, it is rather late in the day.
Nottinghamshire County Council’s statements appear, in my view, somewhat disingenuous, with fundamental decisions on the construction site and timings apparently already made and indeed shared with, and widely published, by the media, including the Chad in advance of any such consultation.
There is little doubt that this is adding to local concerns about the scale and impact of the development, not least because it involves late changes to a site which would appear to be inappropriate for the immediate development, let alone any intended and already mooted future increase of visitors.
The newly-proposed location is a “constrained” area, smaller than the current visitor centre and sandwiched between the national nature reserve, the Edwinstowe conservation area, residential property, the cricket ground and valued open grassland.
It has relatively poor vehicle access, limited space for the extensive parking that will be required, and is at the end of a cul-de-sac forming the direct route to a school, the youth hostel, the cricket ground and the parish burial ground.
All these factors would appear to militate against such a development, yet there is no visibility that any such concerns have been considered. This is no minor development, but one which is expected to continue to draw the existing 350,000 visitors a year, and subsequently aim to increase it, on a site which is questionable even for the current level of footfall and vehicle use.
Since feasibility studies in 2004, the county council’s preferred (“most acceptable” - their words) site for the replacement visitor centre has been Naish’s field, to the east of Swinecote Road, and it purchased this in 2008 for just such a purpose.
Immediately prior to the current proposal, Naish’s field had continued to be the county council’s publicly-stated preferred location (and indeed, arguably remains the “most acceptable”).
The closure of Thoresby Colliery now makes the latter location even more attractive, with ease of vehicle access away from the village, and the potential incorporation of the proposed spoil-tip landscaping and viewing platform into the new attraction.
Forest Corner is one of the more attractive areas that makes Edwinstowe what it is. It is valued by residents, dog walkers, recreational walkers, etc as a recreational area and an easy entry point to the quieter parts of the forest.
Should the proposals go ahead, this access will be subject to countless visitors and greatly increased traffic, and the character of Forest Corner and the village of Edwinstowe will be changed for ever.
Whilst rather late, the views of Edwinstowe residents certainly do need to be sought and considered. As the song goes “don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”.