The aim of the Gouthwaite Wildlife Centre project is to build a small, unmanned centre on the shore of Gouthwaite Reservoir to provide opportunities for bird watching, finding out about the area’s wildlife and signposting visitors on to other tourism destinations in the dale.

The Wildlife Centre is a joint project between Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Nidderdale AONB, Yorkshire Water and Nidderdale Birdwatchers.

The project team would like to hear the views of as many people as possible about the Wildlife Centre plans:
·         Do you agree with the idea of having a Wildlife Centre?
·         Is the design right?
·         Do you have any concerns?

We ran an earlier consultation in February 2017 but have decided to ask for more detailed comments after some members of the local community raised concerns when we submitted a planning application in late 2017. We have withdrawn the planning application to give more time for anyone with a view about the proposed Wildlife Centre to tell us what they think.


* 1. CONCEPT - Why build a Wildlife Centre: This project was conceived during the development of the Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership in 2013. The proposed Wildlife Centre would be a place to watch and learn about Nidderdale’s wildlife, to find out why the reservoir is there; and to discover what other activities and attractions are available in the dale. In addition to providing access to nature and fantastic views, the wildlife centre would provide a venue for small wildlife training events and activities where people can learn about and be inspired by what Nidderdale has to offer.

Do you agree with the idea of building a Wildlife Centre?

* 2. DESIGN - Ecology:  The proposed building would be situated on the western shore of Gouthwaite Reservoir Site of Special Scientific Interest in Upper Nidderdale, within Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  The reservoir is an important site for breeding wildfowl, passage and wintering birds.  Construction of the building will take place at the end of breeding bird season and before the winter migrants arrive to minimise disturbance.  Where possible sections of the building will be pre-constructed off-site to ensure the construction period on site is as short as possible. 

Do you think the building is sympathetic to the local ecology?

* 3. DESIGN - Landscape: The planned location of the building makes use of the existing topography of the site to reduce its visual impact.  The building will, however, be visible from the road for approximately 100 metres to the north and south.  The building will also be visible from the eastern side of Gouthwaite Reservoir (e.g. to people walking the Nidderdale Way).  The building will be constructed from timber, which will fade over time to a natural grey/silver colour. 

Do you think the building is sympathetic to the local landscape?

* 4. DESIGN - Scale:  The proposed building is approximately 50sqm timber frame structure (measuring 3.5m x 16m x 3.2m).  This is about 2.5 times the size of an average UK domestic garage (3m x 6m). It is a modest structure which seeks to provide opportunities for as many people as possible, from local people to experienced birdwatchers and to general tourists exploring the area.  The building has been reduced from an earlier suggestion of a 77sqm building.  It would be difficult to reduce the building size further without compromising the balance between the bird hide and interpretative area. 

Do you think the size of the building is appropriate?

* 5. DESIGN - Materials: The building is designed with full-length glass windows in both gable ends.  The north-west window is to provide light into the building. The window to the south-east will give views over the reservoir towards Gouthwaite dam.  The northern end of the building is the main bird watching area and incorporates glazed viewing slots which face onto the area where most of the waterfowl congregate.  Specialist glass will be used to prevent bird collisions with the windows.  The building will be constructed from timber, which will fade over time to a natural grey/silver colour. 

Do you think the materials used are appropriate?

* 6. OPERATION - Access:  The proposed building is adjacent to Gouthwaite reservoir and a country road with a 60mph speed limit.  The Nidderdale Way, a long distance walking route, runs along this country road and existing users of the viewing platform have to cross the road if they have parked in the private carpark.   A new gated pedestrian access to the carpark would be introduced opposite the entrance to the viewing platform to reduce the time spent on the road and avoid car/pedestrian conflict at the existing carpark entrance.  There will be no public access to the water’s edge and dogs will not be permitted on site.  The path to the hide will be of a gradient which is accessible to all.  Within the building there will be a number of windows which enable all users, including wheelchair and pushchair users, and toddlers, to enjoy the views.

Do you think access arrangements are satisfactory?

* 7. OPERATION - Car parking: The adjacent carpark is privately owned.  Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) and the carpark owner are negotiating an agreement which will ensure that the carpark will be kept well-maintained and open and available to users of the proposed wildlife centre long-term.  The carpark supports 20 vehicles, these spaces will be marked out to ensure that parking is maximised. 

Do you think the car park arrangements are satisfactory?

* 8. OPERATION - Maintenance:  The proposed building will be unmanned.  Toilets are not proposed to reduce the liability and maintenance burden.  A Memorandum of Understanding has been set up between Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Nidderdale AONB and Nidderdale Birdwatchers to agree the use and maintenance of the building.  This sets out procedures, their frequency and the responsibilities of each party.  It covers the building and its immediate surrounds and will be regularly reviewed by all parties to ensure that the arrangements are working.  Any funds raised from events and training will go towards the costs associated with the maintenance of the building.  The carpark will remain the responsibility of the carpark owner. 

Do you think this maintenance arrangements are satisfactory?

* 9. OPERATION - Security:  The potential for antisocial behaviour is acknowledged; although the location is remote, there are other wildlife buildings in similar settings (Staveley, Nosterfield).  As these buildings are still in situ the evidence suggests this risk, although real, is relatively low.  By ensuring the building is oriented to ensure natural surveillance from the road and frequently used, thereby increasing observation, the risk of improper use will be reduced.  Safety glass will be used in the glazed units.  A fire retardant treatment will be applied internally and externally which will leave the appearance of the timber virtually unchanged and remain effective for the lifetime of the timber.  There will be one entry point in and out of the building and access will not be permitted to the rear (reservoir-side of the building).  The building will be locked overnight using a timer powered by a solar-powered lock, which will be fitted with an internal override.  The proposed building and immediate surrounds will be kept tidy, attractive and well cared for; any damage/disorder (such as broken windows, litter or graffiti) will be removed promptly. 

Do you think the security arrangements are satisfactory?


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