Aldingbourne charity plans £4m new visitor centre

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NEW visitor facilities will be the centrepiece of a £4m project at Aldingbourne Country Centre.

The ambitious scheme will see a three-storey building help to transform many of the current facilities at the base of the Aldingbourne Trust.

The trust wants the scheme to improve people’s experience of the centre and its work with people with learning disabilities.

It has applied to Arun District Council for planning permission for the work at the site on Blackmill Lane in Norton.

Trust planning agent, Michael Hancock, of Hawkins Brown Architects, said in a statement: “The intention is to create a new landscape which works in harmony with both the existing functions, client training opportunities, requirements of the country centre and the proposed architecture.

“The landscape brief is to improve the quality of the space for visitors, clients and staff using the site, while improving the sustainable credentials of the centre and diversifying the range of habitats currently identified.”

The trust was formed in 1978 by a group of parents. It has expanded into a charity which provides services for more than 550 people with learning disabilities.

They include autism, Asperger’s syndrome and physical disabilities.

The trust employs 220 staff and benefits from the help of 70 volunteers. It launched an ongoing appeal earlier this year to pay for the major changes to its centre.

As well as the new visitor centre, it will finance an extension of the existing client facilities and the animal petting buildings.

“The scheme transforms the recently acquired quarry in to a car park serving visitors and staff,” states Mr Hancock.

“The three-storey building, positioned to the western end of the quarry, will sit with the existing woodland edge as its backdrop with the roofscape positioned shoulder to shoulder with the canopy of mature trees.” New planting and improved pathways are also in the proposal.