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Breaking ground at local nature reserve

Last modified: 24 October 2014

Sandwell Valley visitor centre damaged by fire

Image: Andy Purcell

Staff and volunteers at RSPB Sandwell Valley are eagerly anticipating the rumble of heavy machinery as builders finally arrive on site to begin construction of the new centre.

On Monday 20 October, J Harper & Sons Limited arrived in the valley, with diggers in tow, to demolish the ruins of the old building in the first stages of the eagerly anticipated opening of the new facility.

The new centre is part of the Breathing New Life into Sandwell Valley initiative, made possible due to generous funding from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Ibstock Cory Environmental Trust, Edward and Dorothy Cadbury Trust and other Charitable Trusts. The RSPB gives thanks to Kartar Consulting, IMB Architects, Building Services Design and The Baynham Meikle Partnership who have generously shared their skill and creativity.

RSPB’s new centre will sit in the heart of the nature reserve with stunning views across the valley, taking in the wildflower meadow, wetlands and Forge Mill Lake.

Nadia Shaikh, spokesperson for the RSPB says: “The new centre will house a fantastic community space with floor to ceiling glass windows allowing visitors to take in the scenery.

“Only the distant silhouette of the BT tower and distant buzz of the M6 reminding us how close the nature reserve is to the city centre!”.

The RSPB team are looking forward to opening its doors to visitors in summer 2015. The new centre will have a host of activities for visitors of all ages, with seasonal trails, wildlife information and explorer backpacks for younger visitors; it is hoped that more local people will visit the reserve.

Nadia Shaikh says: “We want people to come and enjoy the amazing nature in the valley; the centre will have everything visitors need to make the most of their visit, friendly volunteers with guides and information and activities and trails for families to enjoy. You can then pop in for a cuppa after you have explored what we have to offer”.

The build will take approximately 6 months, during which time the nature reserve; which sits in the north east corner of the country park, will remain open to the public. For more information about progress of the project follow the Sandwell Valley blog:

Reyahn King, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said: “The improved visitor centre, together with many new ways in which people can find out about local wildlife, will help to transform the experience of visiting this oasis for nature in the heart of the West Midlands urban conurbation.”

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