Take an exclusive peek at the new visitor centre at Queen Elizabeth Country Park

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FREQUENTED by families, hikers and mountain bikers, Queen Elizabeth Country Park sees 900,000 visitors a year - and now has a new visitor centre to welcome people in.

A refurbishment costing £1.2m has improved facilities at the centre, bringing the original 1977 building up to date and introducing state-of-the-art decor.

Architect Rebecca Galbraith, Jo Heath - Head of Countryside and Cllr Sean Woodward outside the new visitor centre.''Picture: Habibur Rahman

Architect Rebecca Galbraith, Jo Heath - Head of Countryside and Cllr Sean Woodward outside the new visitor centre.''Picture: Habibur Rahman

Changes include an entirely fresh new look and reconfigured space which houses a new reception area, shop, toilets and event space to hire.

Visitors to the park near Horndean will be able to use the facilities from Monday, and guests at a sneak preview said the food is delicious and they think the visitor centre will be a big success.

This latest development, designed by Hampshire County Council senior architect Rebecca Galbraith and built by HP Contracts, is part of an £18m project to improve country parks across the area, including Staunton Country Park in Havant.

Councillor Sean Woodward, executive member for recreation and heritage, said: ‘I think it’s absolutely fantastic.

Refurbished dining area of the visitor centre.''Picture: Habibur Rahman

Refurbished dining area of the visitor centre.''Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘Queen Elizabeth Country Park caters for people of all ages, all abilities, all stages of mobility. There’s something for everyone, it’s well worth investing in.’

Another new addition is the Beechwood Kitchen cafe, which can seat more people indoors and out than before, as well as offering locally sourced food and drink. 

Visitors will also be able to watch their food being freshly prepared through the open kitchen as they wait for hearty cooked breakfasts, deli sandwiches or fresh fruit smoothies.

The new menu designed by Dave Hancock, catering development manager for countryside, and Dylan Hodge, catering manager at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, has taken what was on offer before and given it a bit of a twist, keeping in mind the health-conscious park visitors.

Dylan Hodge and Dave Hancock who run the catering for the cafe in the visitor centre.''Picture: Habibur Rahman

Dylan Hodge and Dave Hancock who run the catering for the cafe in the visitor centre.''Picture: Habibur Rahman

Overall, the park has undergone £2m of improvements in the last two years, under the county council’s country park transformation project. 

These have included a new assault course which opened in December 2017. The free facility is part of the Armed Forces Covenant-funded Forts and Fleets project, which also includes a new dog agility course, adventure play area and outdoor community space.