Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has received a grant from the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Sustainable Development Fund to improve visitor access around its Wolseley Centre headquarters.
The Trust has received £3580 from the fund to create a circular walking route around part of the centre, near Rugeley, by installing a new boardwalk to replace the existing steps which act as a barrier for access.
The Wolseley Centre accommodates around 100,000 visits each year. The centre is a key visitor attraction on the edge of the AONB.
The new boardwalk will allow people easier access from the woodland area of the site onto the riverbank, including people using wheelchairs and pushchairs, rather than having to navigate the steps.
James Dennison, Fundraising and Membership Manager for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “The aim of the project is to increase the accessibility of the Wolseley Centre so more people can enjoy the site. The Wolseley Centre is one of the places on the boundary of the AONB that has the capacity to absorb more visitors without causing harm to the natural environment.
“All visitors will benefit from the project, but we are specifically targeting people who are currently unable to access the circular route due to the steps. This includes disabled people and people with pushchairs.
“In addition to making the site more accessible for more people, we will also extend the length of the season that the site is accessible by installing low level boardwalks over areas that are prone to flooding.”
The project is part of an ongoing plan to improve the Wolseley Centre as a visitor hub. A wide range of other improvements have already been implemented or are planned over the next 12 to 24 months. These include resurfacing the driveway, replacing a worn out foot-bridge, installation of a bird hide and significant plans to establish a new café and bigger retail space within the main visitor building.