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Needham Lake visitor centre scheme gets extra £200,000 as start date set

PUBLISHED: 19:00 09 March 2020

Needham Lake is among the most popular tourist spots in Suffolk. Picture: PAMELA BIDWELL

Needham Lake is among the most popular tourist spots in Suffolk. Picture: PAMELA BIDWELL

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An extra £200,000 has been pumped into the Needham Lake visitor centre project after costs escalated.

The first look at plans for the new Needham Lake visitor centre. Picture: HAMSON BARRON SMITHThe first look at plans for the new Needham Lake visitor centre. Picture: HAMSON BARRON SMITH

But council chiefs have said they are hopeful spades will be in the ground by the end of May ahead of a planned October opening.

Mid Suffolk District Council's cabinet agreed to invest an additional £200,000 on Monday, because the costs around drainage and disabled access were higher than originally planned.

MORE: Designs unveiled for Needham Lake visitor centre

The council had already allocated £600,000 to the scheme, with the additional £200,000 expected to come from retained business rates.

Gerard Brewster, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for economic growth, said there was 'no money that is unwisely spent' and added: 'The indicative finance shown in March was £600,000 as an indicative figure because of some unknown elements of that development, so we always expected it to be a bit higher.'

The first look at plans for the new Needham Lake visitor centre. Picture: HAMSON BARRON SMITHThe first look at plans for the new Needham Lake visitor centre. Picture: HAMSON BARRON SMITH

Julie Flatman, cabinet member for communities and housing added: 'We are actually delivering it, which is great for the area.

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'It's not only great for the lake, it's great for Needham Market.

'It's a small market town, it's brilliant, it's got some fantastic little shops, and I think that being able to go to the lake, have the time there, with the new access going through at the train station being able to walk up to the town is going to make a huge difference to the population of the town.

Mid Suffolk deputy leader Gerard Brewster said the Needham lake project was good news for the community. Picture: GREGG BROWNMid Suffolk deputy leader Gerard Brewster said the Needham lake project was good news for the community. Picture: GREGG BROWN

'We are really, really hopeful that the spades will go in the ground at the end of May.'

If work gets away on target, it is anticipated the new facility will open in October.

The site was named the most visited free attraction in the East of England by Visit England in 2018, with around 380,000 visitors per year enjoying the scenic landscape.

The plans feature a cafe and kitchen, as well as unisex toilets and disabled access.

Mid Suffolk councillor Julie Flatman said she hoped work could begin at the end of May. Picture: MSDCMid Suffolk councillor Julie Flatman said she hoped work could begin at the end of May. Picture: MSDC

Planning permission was secured in December, following a public consultation in October in which dozens of locals gave their feedback.

The cabinet was also presented with the option of reducing the facilities at the site to bring the proposals within the existing £600,000 budget, but was ruled out because it would reduce some of the environmental sustainability features.


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