A POPULAR business hub in Herefordshire is trying to recover from a huge downturn in trade as it seeks to build new facilities.
The Longtown Outdoor Learning Centre, nestled in the Golden Valley, has applied for planning permission from Herefordshire Council for a new dining hall, kitchen, staff bedroom, office, store, utility room, toilets and shower rooms.
Tomkins Thomas Planning said the centre’s owners, the Wilson Foundation, wanted to develop the site by creating a modern and attractive facility that respects the surrounding landscape and heritage.
It is hoped that the facility will bring substantial benefits to residents and non-residents of the center and provide improved facilities for the local community.
The consultants said given the “devastating effects” of Covid-19 on the business, which resulted in a 70% drop in revenue in 2020 compared to 2019, it is hoped the facility will also enable the Longtown Outdoor Learning Trust to continue to drive recovery through business growth, job creation and increased visitor spending in the local community.
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The centre, opened in 1964, is owned by The Trust, a charity which aims to give young people a chance for outdoor adventure in a safe and nurturing environment, helping them to push boundaries, expand their horizons and develop their confidence.
To do this, the center has archery, a climbing tower, a kayak training pool, stand-up paddleboarding, raft building, two rope courses and an internal crossing wall.
It also offers off-site activities including caving, hiking, rock climbing and gorge walking, which take place in the nearby Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains.
The new building, if approved, will be a one-storey vernacular barn with a lean-to. Its main use will be to accommodate between 80 and 100 guests at a time, which means that several sessions will no longer be necessary.
The consultants believe this will make the attraction more attractive to school groups.
It will have red sandstone and clad walls, a slate tiled roof with slate effect solar panels and powder coated aluminum windows, depending on the application.
Consultation on request 223349 is open until November 24, with planners setting November 30 as the target date for a decision.