The Council's Cabinet has decided to grant a lease to Essex Wildlife Trust for the delivery of a new visitor centre at the Naze. Essex Wildlife Trust has secured a government grant to pay for the work.
Essex Wildlife Trust and the Council hope to build a low lying and attractive new Education & Visitor Centre and to improve the open spaces.
All of the open spaces will remain open to the public. There will be no new restriction of public access or dog walking.
With its partners, the Council wishes to improve the management of the site while addressing wider conservation and tourism issues, by providing a year-round facility in a high quality public space that will enhance the natural assets of our coast and countryside. It has the potential to become a showcase of our area’s remarkable heritage and a Centre of Excellence for the District.
Crag Walk was completed in 2010 after partners secured £1.2 million to establish a stable platform for viewing the geology of the cliffs. To build on this success Essex Wildlife Trust has secured planning permission to construct a compact Education & Visitor Centre next to the car park.
The Education & Visitor Centre will feature an observation room, giving views across the striking Naze landscape, and an education room for visitors to learn about the geological, biological and cultural significance of the area. There will be displays, indoor seating, a small retail area and new, modern toilets. All of these are designed to complement the site and other businesses.
Essex Wildlife Trust would also like to help with the management of the open space at the Naze. The Council and the new Management Board will still be in charge and the Trust will not charge admission or restrict access to the public spaces. Dog walkers will be welcome and the environment will be maintained to a high standard, for nature conservation and public access. Visitors will benefit from the opportunity to enjoy the displays at the Education & Visitor Centre or take part in events and activities provided by Essex Wildlife Trust – as well as having a year-round facility, providing important cover from inclement weather, for the first time at the Naze.
There will be new opportunities for people of all ages to get involved as a volunteer, working alongside dedicated site staff, including a Community Ranger. Working in partnership means that the Trust and the Council will have better access to various grants.
The Council will not be charging rent but will save money presently spent on running the existing toilets.
Following consultations and discussions the proposed extent and terms of the proposed lease have been approved by the Council's Cabinet. They are:
- Term: 60 years.
- Site: the area of the proposed building and the old public conveniences: plan on the website.
- Excluding: open spaces, tower, café and car park
- Visitor centre: Tenant to construct as planning permission 13/00515/FUL, maintain and meet all outgoings in relation to the visitor centre
- Toilets: new toilets to be included in visitor centre, old ones to be used for storage
- Access/charges: Council retains control of open areas as existing but setting up a management board to involve local groups and representatives. No charges for access to the Naze
- John Weston Nature Reserve: To be managed by EWT under the existing agreement.
The Council has consulted widely on the potential disposal of open space. Residents and others were invited to give their views, both for and against. A number of views were put forward in support of and opposing the plans and a petition of opposition was submitted. The current proposals aim to facilitate the visitor centre while addressing concerns raised.
You can view the Formal Decision to begin negotiations here.
You can view the current plan for the potential lease here.
You can view the Naze Business Plan here
You can view the final report and decision here