Northumberland National Park Authority and YHA (England & Wales) are celebrating after being awarded a £500,000 grant from Northumberland County Council to support the delivery of The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre on Hadrian’s Wall.
The Sill project has been financed primarily through £7.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The County Council’s grant will help the National Park Authority deliver its ambitious outreach programme of cultural events, education work and community engagement connected to the landscape.
The Sill is an all-weather facility located on the site of the previous National Park Visitor Centre at Once Brewed. It is expected to attract over 100,000 visitors per year and is set to deliver substantial economic benefits within the Park and beyond by contributing an estimated £2.5 million per annum to the North of Tyne economy.
Its aim is to orientate people of all ages and backgrounds with other parts of Northumberland by providing a gateway for them to explore the wider county and other protected landscapes including the North Pennines and the Northumberland Coastal Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The National Park’s chairman, Cllr Glen Sanderson, said: “The Sill is a ground-breaking project of national and international significance. It will connect a diverse range of people with our stunning landscapes and help visitors to make connections and discover places that may seem out of reach or difficult to find.
“With the help of our partners including the County Council to whom we are most grateful for their support, we want to help open up the new experiences that our landscape has to offer, and the joy that these can bring.
“We want to see a wide range of visitors discover Northumberland National Park – a truly fantastic place that is theirs to enjoy. The Sill will offer to young and older people a range of activities and walks throughout the Park which I am sure will offer up new experiences and give enjoyment of the simple things that make up this wonderful piece of our country.”
The Sill will also give substantial support to the rural economy by providing fully-serviced office facilities for more than 20 local start-up businesses related to outdoor pursuits, new employment opportunities and opportunities for skills development and training. It will also house an extensive café offering fine fair from food producers across the county.
The Sill will also be home to a new, state-of-the -art, Youth Hostel with approximately 90 beds to provide people with a modern, high-quality visitor experience. Construction work began in 2015 and The Sill is on schedule to open in summer 2017.
Cllr Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “The council is extremely pleased to provide support to this project, which will have significant benefits for the economy of the Hadrian’s Wall and west Northumberland area.
“It is set to become a superb asset in attracting even more visitors to the county each year as well as enabling local enterprise to thrive and creating dozens of jobs.
“I am delighted to be able to see the excellent progress that has been made on construction, to get a feel for the layout of the building, and of the high quality of the design. I will be watching ongoing progress with interest.”