Five designs have been shortlisted in a competition to create an iconic visitor centre for a Lancashire wildlife haven. Lancashire Wildlife Trust has won the race to save Brockholes Wetland, a former gravel extraction site near Preston. The first phase will include the restoration of the wetlands, creation of ponds, seeding of meadows, planting new hedgerows and trees, making access paths and building proper bird watching hides.
It is hoped that the most urgent works can be completed in about three months, when there will be a grand opening by the Partners. However, this will only be the beginning of a project that will be measured in years. Local people will be encouraged to become involved in the reserve, trained and assisted by Wildlife Trust staff on site.
Brockholes will be an inspirational visitor attraction: a mosaic of lakes, reed beds, flower-rich grassland and woodland. It is encircled by the River Ribble, where otters are returning and is bordered by the largest ancient woodland in Lancashire, where badgers and bluebells thrive. It is already one of the finest sites for bird watching in the North West of England.
Critically, the development of Brockholes will also have a significant economic impact at both a local and regional level – dramatically enhancing a key gateway into the region (the site sits along side the M6), driving increased investment into the area through the extensive visitor and tourism facilities that will be developed on site and by providing an attractive and well managed area of green space for local people.
It is already home to a fantastic variety of birdlife including Lapwing, Sand Martin and Kingfisher, together with more vulnerable species such as Whimbrel, Skylark and Reed Bunting. The rich diversity of wildlife will include Great Crested Newts, bats, dragonflies and damselflies.