First look at designs for new Needham Lake visitor centre
PUBLISHED: 19:00 14 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:48 15 November 2019
Plans for a new visitor centre at Needham Lake have been revealed for the first time, with computer-generated images showing the designs for the new building.
Talks about the new centre, which will be situated on the existing Needham Lake site, have been ongoing for months and the application will give local the first look at what the building will look like.
The visitors centre is planned to house a café, including a kitchen and a seating area, a flexible space which can be utilised for a variety of uses and unisex toilets including baby changing facilities.
There will also be an outdoor and indoor store room as well as a service window for those ordering from outside of the cafe.
Outside the centre will be a 100 square metre seating area, a delivery space and an outdoor service area.
Mike Norris, Mid Suffolk District Councillor for Needham Market, has been heavily involved in planning the new centre.
He said: "We have been wanting a new visitors centre down at the lake for a while so it is good to see the plans have been submitted.
"The plans have been going very well and I, with the local planning group, will still be involved in the project as it goes forward. I'm really pleased with how it looks. It will fit in perfectly with the site."
A former gravel workings, Needham Lake is the second most visited free attraction in the East of England.
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Around 300,000 people visit the nature reserve every year, and the council hopes the new centre will provide those going to the attraction with a strengthened link to the town centre.
The café is proposed to act as the heart of the new centre, serving light lunches of hot food, tea and coffee, cakes and snacks for the hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Needham Market residents were consulted on the plans and their views influenced the nature of the design.
Some residents have expressed concern over the unisex toilets which will be accessible from both the inside and outside of the building.
The plans show there will be four independent cubicles, with a communal hand washing and drying area.
There is also another larger cubicle for disabled access and baby changing.