THE ‘SIR PETER SCOTT CENTENARY CENTRE’
The Snowgoose Wildlife Trust is passionate about conservation of the natural environment and the engagement of people with it.
The natural environment is fundamental to the health and well-being of people and it is therefore critical that they should be able to feel comfortable within it and to know that it is there for them. In achieving this aim, wildlife benefits too from their care and involvement.
To achieve this visitor centres need to provide modern facilities including refreshments, shelter, classrooms, toilets, car parking, somewhere to hold exhibitions, somewhere to run activities and somewhere to buy related items.
They have to do what it says on the tin but they don’t have to cost a fortune, just be tightly designed economical buildings that are nice places to visit and work well. They should be in the right place and with something inspirational nearby.
The proposed ‘Sir Peter Scott Centenary Centre’ has these factors, with the inspirational element being of exceptional importance. There can be few other places in the country with such abundance.
(a) The Wash National Nature Reserve, the most unique and important sea embayment area in the country for wildlife both above and below the waves.
(b) The Sir Peter Scott Story. This incredibly important lighthouse is where it all began in the 1930’s, with the young Peter Scott undergoing conversion from hunter to conservationist. Hopefully the story of his life and the environment he dedicated it to conserving can become a doorway for others into the environment too.
(c) The East Bank Lighthouse, described as the most important building in the history of global conservation.
(d) The River Nene, with its history in the draining of the marshes and Fens.
(e) The wild beauty of this amazing landscape
(f) The ten mile long ‘Sir Peter Scott Walk’.
(g) The epic ‘Snow Goose’ story by American writer Paul Gallico and based on East Bank Lighthouse and Peter Scott’s activities here in the 1930’s.
(h) Our Sir Peter Scott memorabilia will become the basis of a permanent museum to him and represent all that he achieved including, medals, books and paintings, and set in the converted lighthouse garages, a part of the lighthouse that he actually built.
(i) The East Bank Lighthouse ponds, geese and ducks. The ducks are waiting to be fed.
The East Bank Lighthouse ponds
Design There have been several previous proposals to provide a visitor centre here. All were estimated to cost far in excess of the present budget and anticipated major alterations to the lighthouse buildings plus the construction of a separate two storey visitor centre in the adjacent public car park. Ours does neither.
Current Proposal The proposed ‘Green Gateway’ design is for a pleasing but deliberately simple, low-profile, timber clad building, set within the grounds of the lighthouse itself. It will have views of the lighthouse (but not impinge on the privacy of the residential parts) and overlook the surrounding landscape with the ponds, their ducks and geese plus a feeding area below.
Plan view of the Sir Peter Scott Centenary Centre
This design is tightly focused, flexible and highly functional. Respectful of the landscape and with a layout that will do what is needed and more. The overall size will reasonably support the roles it is to achieve but unlike many much larger centres, it will do so without wasted space. Locating the building to the east of the garden preserves the essential open land and seascape views to either side of the lighthouse from the public road and introduces the board walk approach.
North Elevation of proposed visitor centre overlooking ponds
The listed grade II* lighthouse itself and its residential outbuildings, with the exception of the garages (see Museum and lighthouse garages below) will remain exactly as they are and as a single residential unit. It is intend to open the lighthouse for guided toursthroughout limited periods of the year but not to the extent that it would require a planning change of use.
Approximate view from visitor centre
GardensA new hedge will be grown just south of the existing courtyard garden in order to preserve security and privacy for the residential part of the lighthouse. Our aims are to present the whole property in as sensitive and well gardened condition as we can including gardening for wildlife and that includes trees and shrubs.
The lighthouse ponds will be upgraded and replanted to best advantage and we are consulting on the best future layout.
Fencing The existing garden perimeter fencing will be eventually replaced with green chain link fencing to an overall height to match the existing, including the top overhang. The new western line of this fencing will run along the eastern side of the sycamore trees to separate the front garden of the lighthouse from the ponds, thus protecting the birds on the ponds from dogs, predators and people once the front gate is open.
External Decoration New external feather edge cladding will be stained black, with with the timber windows stained nut brown External balcony areas will be constructed from ribbed timber decking, with upright timber balustrades stained in dark brown.
HeightThe height of the building is a compromise between keeping the floor a sensible height above the possible flooding levels, whilst trying to keep the roofline as low in the surroundings as possible. The permitted maximum walkway slope for wheelchairs limits the amount the working floor can be lowered. The main floor level of the building is set three-quarters of a metre below the entry gate level and at the 2006 ‘Low’ flood risk level.
Roof The roof covering will be of pressed sheet steel tile design to match that on the lighthouse buildings, to help keep the roof slopes as low as practically possible in this area of severe weather exposure and keep the roof colour from dominating the landscape.
Sea wallWe are fully aware of the sensitivity of any works proposed to, or near the sea walls. By movingthe body of the building to the east, it draws it approximately nine metres away from the main protective sea wall, meaning that we have no need to carry out major works or excavations to it.
BalconyThe building has a 2.5 metre balcony to the north side. This performs several functions. The first is that of an external wheelchair fire escape and the second is that of an outside seating and viewing area in good weather. As this faces north, it will provide shade from intense sunlight and protection from the prevailing winds.
Internal Layout Principles The building is designed to provide flexibility for a variety of functions. Generally it is designed to serve customers to the classrooms, events, shop and canteen. However, as there are no toilets in this remote location and public engagement is our aim, the toilets will be made available to members of the public free of charge during opening hours providing the usage does not get out of hand. We would not want to see them classed as public toilets however and the use will at all times be subject to our right of refusal.
The entry lobby is designed to provide for a wall display area and table to the left as people enter and for a disabled/family toilet to the right. The entry lobby acts as an air lock for heat conservation purposes of the main building and when coupled with the inner lobby lockable doors, it can provide a means of keeping one toilet accessible during periods when the main building might be otherwise closed. This is not an envisaged situation at the moment but it is a future proofing of the design should it be decided to go that way.
Passing through the inner lobby entry doors, there will be a warm air curtain during the winter to replace any warm air lost when the doors are opened because underfloor heating as provided by the heat pump is not good at responding to rapid air changes when doors open or close.
To the left is the kitchen and canteen serving area and to the right a shop area for selling maps, wildlife toys, books, lighthouse memorabilia, cards, paintings and prints etc. Both areas will have lockable pull down shutters for when not in use. Serving openings and door access in the kitchen overlooking the shop and dining area mean that during quiet periods, kitchen staff will be able to control both facilities.
The canteen dining area is large enough to take 48 diners; this is with schools in mind and a combination of children and supervisors. In summer, some of the tables can be taken outside.
Next to the dining area is the classroom. This is designed to take 47 people. It will be equipped with an overhead computer type projector and pull down screen and the windows will all have blackout blinds.
The classroom and dining area are separated by glazed sliding doors. These can be pulled back to make one big area and thus give the flexibility for an open exhibition area (with all chairs and tables being stackable), a 90 seat lecture area, or an exhibition area with some dining.
If the centre is found economically viable to run throughout the winter, it is possible that part of the Sir Peter Scott museum could be brought up from the lighthouse garages and placed here in order to save the cost of separate staffing.
Access All access surfaces are to be suitable for wheelchairs within the property boundary. The external pathway leading to the museum will have a tarmac surface and the internal spaces of the museum will be narrow but suitable for wheelchairs. Wheelchair access to the lower duck feeding area is something we have to work on due to the height difference.
Museum and lighthouse garages We intend to use the existing garages of the lighthouse, that were built by Sir Peter Scott himself in 1935, to house the Sir Peter Scott museum, including memorabilia and prints.
The garages are of simple timber frame shed design and our intentions are to carry out minimum works only and none of which impact on the structure. We intend to replace the internal cladding with close boarded timber, painted white to preserve a rugged and original feel.
A part glazed timber entry door screen will be installed immediately inside the large garage door and the modern steel up and over entry door will be replaced with a pair of side hung timber doors to match those that were there originally and for which we have photographs.
Trees The lighthouse grounds have many trees of various ages. Some have been deliberately planted and others have self seeded. All appear to have grown without regular management and considerably outgrown their original decorative or functional concept. A plan has been developed involving the removal of some trees and replanting to meet the needs of future activities and to open up views of the lighthouse.
Working with the community This will be the second major project of the ‘Snowgoose Wildlife Trust’ after our flagship 65 acre Buckland Lake Reserve in Kent where our inspirational program of ideas has been formulated both above and below the water.
Our trustees support many other wildlife and environmental organisations although we do our own thing in our own way. Part of that way is actively welcoming participation from other groups. We are very much looking forward to working with Natural England, the Wash Estuary Strategy Group, the RSPB and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust among others.
Our target audience will have a broad range of interests, ages, physical and mental abilities. Our programs have to be likewise. Participation from community groups, music, poetry, art and photography societies to history, rambling and traditional country pursuits all will be welcome.
We would particularly like to introduce people to the caring side of farming. It is an extremely hard industry and essential for the survival of the populace, yet farmers frequently get undeserved bad press despite the fact that they, together with traditional countryside activities, are actually responsible for not only the food on our plates but also the vast bulk of conservation work that is carried out in this country.
Schools are a major focus for us and we would hope to encourage them to use our facilities that have been designed with them very much in mind.
This building will hopefully become a valued part of the local area and prove ideal for meeting up with friends over a coffee and going for a nice stroll.
Local Employment We would expect to create at least one main managers job and between two to four further part time seasonal jobs. At present it is hoped that the centre will reain open all year. There will be further local employment possibilities for third parties providing lectures, events and guided tours etc from here and possibly bookings for seal watching trips from the new marina for someone with the right qualifications and a suitable boat.
There should be additional financial gains for local shops, B&B’s and Hotels in the area with the improved serviced walks available, the lighthouse, the Snow Goose story and the Sir Peter Scott museum. Sir Peter Scott is a global name and we expect visitors from around the world to come here to see where it all started.
Economics of operation Our ‘Green Gateway’ centres are designed to be highly efficient and pay a minimum of their own running costs. If they don't then it shows an urgent need to consider where we are failing in our aims of getting people out. We have always looked on this as an excellent barometer of the effectiveness of our organisational aims.
Heating Heating will be by way of air source heat pumps to provide an efficiency of 3/4 times output for every kilowatt of electricity used. The heat will be distributed via under floor heating. The electricity grid is very green here, being close to a gas fired power station and ever increasing wind power generated sources. Having taken these issues into account and the efficiency of the ground source heat pumps we believe this is the best system we could use from the points of energy consumption and minimising Co2 gases.
Floor and wall insulation Floor and wall insulation standards will exceed the current requirements, making this an easy building to heat and building regulations future proofed.
Solar Gain The main windows face north and will not benefit from high levels of solar gain. We have therefore installed windows to the eastern end to catch early morning winter sunlight. There are small high level windows to the south elevation and these will work for us but have been kept small because they could be exposed to vandal damage and burglary attempts.
Car Parking and Highways Adjacent to the proposed centre is a large public car park and overflow area. It has been considered by all previous proposals to be of more than adequate in size for the use of the Sir Peter Scott Walk and the proposed visitor centres. There appears to be capacity for approximately 120 cars plus two coaches.
No parking within the grounds of the lighthouse has been provided for as it would require an elevation of the ground levels to match the reinforced sea wall and at that height parked vehicles would obscure the views of the lighthouse.
Sewerage There are no main sewers in the area. Sewerage disposal will therefore be by way of a new packaged sewerage treatment plant with a final discharge into the ditch alongside the building. This ditch is a continually flowing surface drain containing highly saline water and drains into the river Nene via a tidal sluice approximately 100 metres away from the proposed discharge point.