Visitors centre planned for seaside town

By Annie DavidsonAN ambitious plan has been submitted to develop a £1.5million visitor centre in a seaside town.The Living Naze visitor centre could be built in Walton on the Naze at Walton Hall Barns, which are owned by farmer David Eagle.

By Annie Davidson

AN ambitious plan has been submitted to develop a £1.5million visitor centre in a seaside town.

The Living Naze visitor centre could be built in Walton on the Naze at Walton Hall Barns, which are owned by farmer David Eagle.

Mr Eagle and his business partner, David Rampling, have lodged a planning application with Tendring District Council to develop the grade two listed buildings.


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The pair are also to apply for a grant from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and possibly for European funding, but will also provide cash themselves to get the venture up and running.

If planning permission is granted, it is hoped work will begin on the centre by the spring and it will open by summer 2006.

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The barns are close to the historic Naze Tower, which has recently been opened to the public for the first time.

Visitors to the centre would begin with a 10-minute audio-visual show that would give a summary of all the attractions at the centre.

The displays will focus on three main themes - the changing landscape of the Naze, living on the coast and Walton on the Naze's decline as a seaside resort.

A grain store would contain a 20ft high model of the Naze cliffs, while nearby Hamford Water would be recreated in a giant water tank.

There would also be a café and gift shop, a maze, a themed children's play area and an open-air amphitheatre to be used for other events.

Mr Eagle and Mr Rampling are working with Sarner, a company that specialises in the design and construction of attractions including visitor centres, heritage centres, museums and exhibitions.

Sarner worked on Viking Land in Oslo and the Victory Galleries in Portsmouth.

Mr Rampling said: "It should appeal to everybody, although it will have a heavy educational emphasis."

Mr Eagle added it would be an all-weather facility, something which was lacking in the area, and it was also hoped the venture would promote the need to preserve the Naze, which has been the victim of cliff erosion.

annie.davidson@eadt.co.uk

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