The second significant project being delivered by Mid Suffolk Growth has enjoyed its ground breaking ceremony, to deliver a new visitor centre at Needham Lake.

Consultant advisors from our specialist interdisciplinary design firm, Hamson Barron Smith, joined colleagues from Mid Suffolk Growth and councillors from Mid Suffolk District Council at the event.

As one of the region’s most visited free tourism attractions, Needham Lake will have even more to offer visitors with a range of facilities including a new café with outdoor seating, a community events space, and a Changing Places facility with fully accessible and spacious toilets.

It is hoped that the new facilities will help boost visitor numbers and support the local economy and encourage more people to enjoy a range of outdoor leisure pursuits.

Mid Suffolk Growth Ltd (MSG) is the lead consultant on the Needham Lake project alongside Hamson Barron Smith. MSG is a joint venture between Mid Suffolk District Council and Norse Group, with its aim being to support the council’s strategic plans and vision.

The Needham Lake development is part of the council’s Invest in Needham Market programme which aims to deliver projects to support the town and create places with bright and healthy futures that everyone is proud to call home.

In addition to the Needham Lake café and visitor centre, the Invest in Needham Market programme includes improving the connectivity between Needham Lake and the town as well as the development of new homes at the former Mid Suffolk District Council Headquarters and Middle School sites.

Work on the former council headquarters site commenced last year, with the multi-million-pound project being the first ever scheme to be delivered by Mid Suffolk Growth.

Cllr Julie Flatman, Mid Suffolk District Council said: “I am delighted we have been able to mark the start of this important project for Needham Lake. Not only will the new facilities, event space and café be a welcome addition for the local community, but the introduction of the Changing Places facility will make this an accessible attraction for everyone to enjoy.”

Richard Gawthorpe, Director of Mid Suffolk Growth Ltd, commented: “We are really delighted to be part of this inspiring project, and excited that as Mid Suffolk Growth, we are able to support the delivery of a visitor centre, that has sustainable design at its heart, and which will perfectly complement the natural environment.”

The new building has been designed to complement the surrounding natural environment and meets Mid Suffolk District Councils’ climate change ambitions with several green features including the introduction of bird boxes for feathered residents.

The building will feature solar panels, sustainable drainage, an air source heat pump and use sustainable building materials as part of the build.

During the initial construction phase, the wooden play area which is adjacent to the site of the new café and visitor centre may need to be closed to keep visitors safe. The play equipment located near the toilet block will remain open.

Construction partners SEH French and café operator 127 Trading joined the ground-breaking event held on 30 June 2021.

Simon Girling, director at SEH French Limited said: “Needham Lake is one of our county’s gems and, once complete, the new café and visitor centre will improve the experience of residents and visitors alike.

“As a local firm, we are very excited to deliver this project and make Needham Market an even more attractive place to visit. We look forward to working on behalf of Mid Suffolk District Council to deliver its vision to not only boost the visitor experience, but also for local community groups to use and enjoy.”

The café will offer a range of seasonal meals, snacks, drinks and ice-creams throughout the year. As the building work is underway, the team will continue to run the kiosk for visitors.

Keith Myers, manager of Cabbages and Kings said: “It’s been really exciting to be involved in the planning for the new café and visitor centre and setting out how our vision for fresh, seasonal food will meet the needs of visitors to the area. Throughout the summer we will continue to serve hot and cold drinks and ice-creams before we can welcome customers to the new café.”