Developer needed for Hadrian’s Wall visitor centre

Hadrian's Wall Heritage, a not-for-profit company charged with managing and developing the 150-mile World Heritage Site, is seeking a development partner to create a visitor centre at Bowness House Farm in the historic village of Bowness-on-Solway.

Trevor Atkinson, sustainable development manager for Hadrian's Wall Heritage, said: "We have been working with the owners of Bowness House Farm and following the completion of a detailed feasibility study, we can now move ahead with the project.

"We are looking to create a visitor centre with a café, farm shop, gallery or museum and holiday accommodation to mark the western end of the Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail.

"This would provide for the needs of trail walkers, cyclists and other visitors to the area, and also improve local community facilities, particularly car parking, in the centre of the village.

"We are now seeking a private sector partner over the coming months to lead the development, which we expect will have a rough outline cost between £1m and £2m.

"It's important that local people continue to be involved in the project and we will be arranging a public meeting in the autumn to discuss the current proposals and future plans with anyone who is interested in the project."

The 3.75-acre development site includes a Grade 2-listed farmhouse, cottage and the farm buildings of Bowness House Farm, bounded by Main Street, Church Lane and Kirkbride Road.

The feasibility study recommends that the development could provide a visitor centre of around 3,000 sq ft with a small car park.

Architect for the scheme, Alastair McGregor of Johnston & Wright, said: "This is an exciting opportunity to provide a visitor centre with improved community facilities in the centre of Bowness-on-Solway.

"The development will be designed in order to enhance the qualities of the existing buildings and be in keeping with the character of the surrounding village."

The feasibility study for the project was funded by the Rural Development Programme for England.

Hadrian's Wall Heritage, together with partner organisations and Roman site owners, aim to establish Hadrian's Wall Country as a leading international destination for heritage, landscape and outdoor activities. The focus for the future is on increasing the number of visitors and encouraging them to stay longer and spend more.

Hadrian's Wall Country extends from Ravenglass north to Bowness and 10 miles either side of Hadrian's Wall through Carlisle, Hexham and Newcastle to Wallsend and South Shields.

Income generated by visitors to Hadrian's Wall Country was estimated at £880m for 2010.

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