for Groundworks South
Cllr Dawn Poole, Hastings Borough Council's lead member for leisure and amenities and chair of the Combe Valley Countryside Park Board.
This moveable discovery centre for Combe Valley Countryside Park responds to Groundwork’s sustainable ethos. Comprising three recycled 40ft-shipping containers, this multifunctional space houses a small café and office, storeroom and public toilets. There is also space for displays, meetings and community activities. The project includes car park resurfacing, creation of an outdoor seating area, tree, shrub and wildflower meadow planting.
This project is a first step in a long-term strategy to transform the park into a landscape which supports a greater variety of recreational uses – attracting more people with improved biodiversity and accessibility.
The ‘upcycling’ strategy recognises and educates visitors about the value of repurposing materials and landscapes. The ambition is to turn this despoiled landfill site into a high quality activity area which encourages walking, running, cycling, horse-riding, fishing and sports, as well as improving the quality, character and accessibility of the environment.
The building is designed to minimise energy use, conserve water and seeks to actively demonstrate best practice in sustainable design. It is also practical, functional and robust in this remote parkland location.
In collaboration with ISO Spaces through our joint venture company CargoTek, the visitor centre has been built using our bespoke panel system. The units are constructed in a controlled off-site environment which helps streamline the internal fit out. In order to minimise the environmental impact and infrastructure costs, a minimal concrete substructure has been used (possible because of the inherent integrity of the container), along with the installation of a septic tank. Surface water from the roof will be collected to water the kitchen garden. Operationally, the thermal efficiency and air tightness will ensure the centre retains its low carbon credentials.
The visitor centre will remain in its current location for an initial site activation period of 2 years before a planned move further into the park where it will become a hub for site conservation and recreational activities.