Time to cash in on tourism jewels

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THE LEADER of Ashfield District Council hopes a planned new visitor centre at Sherwood Forest will spark a wider tourism boost across the district with Hucknall’s Byron connections and Newstead Abbey (pictured) at the forefront.

Notts County Council has approved an ambitious £13 million plan to create a new tourist attraction, based on the legend of Robin Hood. It is expected to be completed by 2015 subject to planning permission.

The planned 40-acre ‘Discover Robin Hood’ visitor attraction will include a medieval fortress, dungeons and a maze with talking trees.

And with nearby hotels, restaurants, pubs and other attractions expecting to cash in on the increased numbers of tourists, Coun John Knight (Lab) is hoping Ashfield’s businesses can make the most of any boom.

Said Coun Knight: “I hope that the redevelopment of the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre will have massive benefits for the wider Nottinghamshire area.

“I believe that its potential has never been fully developed and I’m looking forward to seeing it develop further in the future.”

Ashfield tourist attractions include the medieval Annesley Old Church.

And it is such attractions that Coun Knight hopes new tourists to the area will go on and explore.

“In Ashfield, we have strong links to three internationally prominent cultural icons — Byron and Newstead Abbey, the writer D.H. Lawrence and Sherwood Forest’s legendary Robin Hood,” he said.

“Byron’s reputation is strong all over the world and there is growing recognition for his daughter, Ada, who is commemorated in one of the council’s own buildings in Kirkby, while D.H. Lawrence has particular renown in the Far East.

“All in all we are lucky to be where we are in terms of what we offer and the rich cultural heritage we can draw on.

“The real challenge for local authorities is to maximise that potential as tourism will become an increasing role in wealth development in our district.”

As part of Ashfeld District Council’s efforts to boost general tourism in the district, residents are being asked to give their views on heritage assets around the area.

The draft Criteria for Local Heritage Asset Designation consultation aims to highlight anything that is not already protected by law, for example, buildings that have not been listed.

The consultation closes on January 23. To have your say visit the council’s website at www.ashfield-dc.gov.uk.