For more information please contact Ian Selby at Lancashire Wildlife Trust
Brockholes is a varied wetland and woodland site, it span 166ha and sits next to the M6 motorway near Preston. Until earlier this decade, Brockholes was a working gravel quarry; an activity that has created some of the large lakes that you can now see on the site. In addition to these lakes, Brockholes is made up of wetland, woodland, grass and marshland areas. This makes it a perfect habitat for a range of bird and animal life. Lapwings, Kingfishers and Whimbrels are all frequent visitors to the site, and bird watchers have been regularly visiting Brockholes since the 1990s.
When quarrying on Brockholes ended the site was put the site up for sale. To ensure this valuable natural site was protected from development, Lancashire Wildlife Trust began the campaign to raise enough funds to purchase the site. Working in partnership with the NWDA and the Forestry Commission (through the Newlands programme), as well as other funders and a large number of Lancashire Wildlife Trust members who made donations, the Trust bought the site at the end of 2006. With the purchase came a vision to turn Brockholes into a flagship visitor attraction, which would unite people and nature, and preserve Brockholes valuable natural assets into the future.
Throughout 2007 and 2008, plans to develop Brockholes developed. The partners held a design competition with RIBA to find an architect for the iconic visitor centre on site. Visions were drawn up for Brockholes, and the planning process commenced. The timescale for the project was also laid out and the partners hoped to see the whole site open for visitors by 2010.
In late 2008, the Newlands partnership confirmed that a further £8million of NWDA funding had been granted to the Brockholes project. This investment was granted to realise the full vision of Brockholes and turn the site into one of the region’s most popular natural visitor attractions.
Brockholes opened to the public in April 2011. Brockholes is now a thriving natural visitor attraction, which is striving to re-define what it means to be a nature reserve, by being lively, accessible and fun whilst preserving the site’s biodiversity and maintaining the very highest environmental standards.
The site is a mosaic of habitats, brought to life with family friendly hides, accessible paths and board walks and engaging interpretation. At the heart of the site is the visitor village. This centre is designed by Adam Khan architects andf floats on one of the large lakes on site; an unusual and eye catching structure that sits at water level, giving people a chance to get close to nature. The sustainably-built visitor centre houses meeting and education facilities, as well as a shop and restaurant, and interpretation displays to help visitors to understand and appreciate their surroundings.
Brockholes will becomes one of the region’s flagship natural visitor attractions, offering people from across the Northwest and beyond the chance to experience the best of Lancashire’s wildlife, food and drink, culture and sporting opportunities.
Brockholes will remain true to its origins as a haven of bird and animal life, but it will also become a showcase for the county, promoting local produce in their shop and restaurant, supporting local arts and culture and providing a valuable green space for local communities to make their own. The site will have facilities to deliver a programme of education and training, as well as to welcome the business community for conferencing and events.
Brockholes will also promote health and well-being, with ‘nature friendly’ water sports becoming an integral part of life on the site.
Brockholes will use modern technology to allow people to experience wildlife at close quarters, whilst not compromising the network of natural habitats that the site boasts.
Brockholes will also become an important part of Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s work – promoting the role of the Trust, and encouraging visitors and local communities alike to engage with their local environment.
Brockholes sits in a key strategic location aside junction 31 of the M6 motorway. Under Newlands, Brockholes will become a premier visitor attraction that will not only be a landmark centre of excellence for recreation and wildlife, but will also act as a catalytic driver for economic and social development within Preston, and more widely, Lancashire.
Brockholes will boost the Preston and Lancashire economies by providing jobs for local people and attracting visitors, which in turn will enhance the other tourism related businesses in the area. The work at Brockholes will also transform a very high profile former brownfield site, so that everyone who passes through Lancashire along the main motorway route will see the County at its very best, as represented by Brockholes.
Brockholes is close to several residential areas that suffer from some deprivation, and the developments to the site, and the work to engage local people and encourage them to access the facilities at Brockholes will play a part in transforming these areas and proving new opportunities for the people of Preston.