The vision for a new natural tourist attraction on a former gravel quarry near Preston has the chance to become reality after £8m of grant funding was approved by the North West Development Agency.
The Brockholes Wetland and Woodland Reserve was designed by Adam Khan Architects after the firm won an international competition run by the RIBA.
A visitor centre at the heart of the scheme called A Floating World will include a shop and restaurant specialising in local produce, alongside education and exhibition areas and event space.
The site is expected to generate sufficient income to be self-sustainable from day one of opening, securing the long-term future of the whole reserve, the NWDA said.
The money to build the 250-acre reserve was awarded from the Newlands £59m pot co-managed by the Forestry Commission with the NWDA, aimed at transforming brownfield land into durable community woodland for economic benefit.
The Newlands partners will now work with Lancashire Wildlife Trust to create lakes, reed beds, flower-rich grassland and a connection to 150 acres of adjacent semi-natural ancient woodland.
Work will start on site in spring 2009, and the construction of A Floating World will commence in late 2009. The completed reserve and visitor centre is expected to be open for visitors by 2011.