An ambitious £250,000 extension to the Dartmouth Visitor Centre has been unveiled in anticipation of the town's historic Mayflower 400 commemorations.
This proposal includes display and exhibition space for the anniversary of the pioneering voyage, including for the replica ship which is currently being built and will form the centrepiece for the project.
The visitor centre will be launching an appeal for donations and putting in grant applications in a bid to fund the extension.
The innovative design will included a glazed facade will provide a new entrance into the centre from the Royal Avenue Gardens, and the roof will take on a sail shape, supported on a mast structure which will be an extension of the M400 replica model.
The extension project was showcased at a visitor centre event earlier this month.
How the visitor centre's extension could look. Image: BBH Architects/Adam Benns
Visitor centre manager Karen Perrow said: “A key part of our tourism growth strategy is to create compelling new reasons for people to come to Dartmouth again and again.
“This extension proposal is modern and simple in form but we believe expressive with references to engineering, mechanical and nautical in order to maintain a focus on Dartmouth’s heritage.
“We have been working closely with Adam Benns, from BBH Architects, and it is hoped these designs will soon form the basis of a planning application to go before South Hams District Council.
“Of course, if the project is to go ahead we must embark on a major fundraising campaign to enable building work to be completed in time for the Mayflower celebrations of 2020.
“As well as exploring grant and lottery options we will be seeking support from the local community for what we believe is a fantastic opportunity for Dartmouth for years to come.”
Earlier, Mrs Perrow had said that while visitor information centres were in decline across the country, Dartmouth had held on.
In 2018, more than 74,000 visitors came through the doors of the visitor centre, some 26,000 people more than the previous year, an increase in footfall of 30 per cent, she said.
The centre remained open six days a week throughout the year thanks to its team of around a dozen volunteers and the centre’s cruise ship ambassadors group welcomed 10 visiting cruise ships to Dartmouth last year.
She added: “While it is easy to think this will continue, it is worth remembering that given the economic value of tourism, local councils and the community should recognise what role we play in the overall success of the town.
“There is now no statutory requirement on local authorities, who face difficult budget decisions themselves, to pay for the running of visitor centres.
“We are extremely fortunate in Dartmouth that our own town council recognises the work we do and the value we bring to the town.
“Not only has it underwritten us but a few months ago took ownership of our building, which we believe will greatly strengthen our position.”
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