West Norfolk’s tourist industry could be getting a major boost under multi-million pound project for Bawsey Pits.
Wisbech businessman Kevin Salter has reached a deal to buy the country park with Sibelco and has huge hopes for its future prospects, which will create new jobs for the area.
Wildlife ranger led walks, a visitor site along with managed parking and holiday lodges are included in his vision for the Bawsey.
Mr Salter, who is managing director of Richard Knight Homes, said he was encouraged following a meeting with the Bawsey Pits futures group, formed following a public consultation last year, and is looking forward to working closely with Sibelco.
He said: “Our aspiration is to provide access for all. We want everyone to enjoy the site.
“I am very encouraged by a the meeting we had on Tuesday and very happy that Sibelco is there going forward and is on the management team.”
Mr Salter’s company, St Giles Care Solutions, is due to take over ownership of the site, which includes a nearby silt pond, in March, subject to the legal process.
A planning application will be lodged later in the year and the park will be developed within three phases.
The first phase will see the introduction of managed and charged car parking with disabled spaces and secure cycle areas.
While the country park remains open, the access routes around the site will be looked at to best serve visitors.
A bus stop within the site along with dog-free zones to protect certain wildlife areas are also planned.
There are hopes for toilets and a cafe within this stage.
The second phase will include viewing platforms and decks along with pods to observe the wildlife.
Mr Salter will be working with RSPB and Norfolk Wildlife Trust.
There are plans to create a 24-hours cctv wildlife viewing system. Estate rangers could also be leading school parties and other groups on walks.
There is also the potential for a restricted swimming area, subject to safety surveys.
This phase will include a cycle repair and hire centre, sailing and a restaurant, which may have a floating terrace.
Sailing is also part of the plan but there will be no motorised sports.
Phase three will include an adventure play area for children, tree top activities and a conservation and eco visitor centre.
Green holiday lodges and a small camping site are also part of the plan.
The Bawsey futures group will be involved in putting together a masterplan for the site and will also have a £25,000 budget.
Ray Johnson, Freebridge Community Housing’s chairman is also involved in the project.
Sibelco’s resource director Gary Stringer said there will be no housing built at the site and the project is aimed to improve facilities for locals.
He said: “This for Sibelco is a legacy project.
“It is about not just exploiting the area’s resources and walking away.
“It is about leaving behind something of value for future generations.”