Preston's new Brockholes wetland and woodland nature reserve and floating visitor centre, which opens in spring, has been awarded BREEAM 'outstanding' status for its environmental quality.
The 260-acre former gravel quarry is already an important site for migrating birds and is a popular attraction for bird watchers. An £8.6m project supported by the North West Development Agency, landowner Lancashire Wildlife Trust and the Forestry Commission is installing a new 25,000 sq ft pontoon with a shop, restaurant, classroom and conference room.
RIBA award-winning Adam Khan Architect supported by Max Fordham Building Services Engineers designed the pontoon, which is environmentally low impact and includes energy conservation features, renewable technology, reduced water usage and composting and recycling facilities.
Mansell Construction and Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering are the contractors on the job, delivering a cellular reinforced concrete structure with polystyrene infills.
Brockholes is set to open to the public in spring 2011. Visitors will access the floating centre over a walkway bridge, where they will take in views right across the lake and beyond to the site's diverse grassland, meadow and wetland habitats, play zones and spaces dedicated to the preservation of the very best examples of Lancashire wildlife.
Work is progressing well on the reserve and the visitor centre at Brockholes. With less than four months to go until it opens, a network of pathways has been installed around the site to give visitors the chance to explore the wetlands, woodlands and hay meadows. Viewing platforms are also being constructed to give visitors the best view of the reserve and the chance to overlook the River Ribble. Winter wildlife visitors are currently flocking to the reserve including mallard, tufted duck and shoveler.
The oak shingles are now on the retail unit and boardwalks leading up to the visitor centre are now complete. The next few months will see the final touches in preparation for opening to the public, and the water let back in, which will trickle under the concrete and float the centre.
Most major earthworks are now complete, such as a new wet grassland and the newly leveled island where up to 300 lapwing have been roosting.
The work is part of the £59m Newlands programme by the NWDA and Forestry Commission which has created around 1,000 acres of woodland and habitats since 2003.
Brockholes' waters and grassland are particularly important for breeding waders including redshank, lapwing, common sandpiper, oystercatcher, ringed plover and little ringed plover and wetland passerines the sand martin, grey wagtail, reed warbler, sedge warbler and reed bunting, as well as little and great crested grebes and kingfisher.