PLANS have been unveiled for a major £13m visitor attraction for Sherwood Forest - creating 100 jobs for the area.
Notts County Council announced it has teamed up with tourism experts Discovery Attractions to create a ‘world-class’ Robin Hood experience which will protect Sherwood Forest and provide a major boost for the economy.
If developers get the green light from Newark and Sherwood Council, the Discover Robin Hood attraction could be welcoming its first visitors in spring 2015.
Coun John Cottee, chairman for the culture committee at Notts County Council, said the project will out Robin Hood’s legendary home back on the map and protect Sherwood Forest for future generations.
“This exciting venture will also create and sustain jobs for Nottinghamshire people,” he said.
“We hope to excite and educate visitors from all over the world. We’re delighted to be working with Discovery Attractions to build a world-class attraction befitting our legendary hero and his forest home.”
The project team have worked on well-known attractions such as Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and the London Eye and promise to bring a world-class development to Sherwood Forest.
Under the proposals there will be an interactive and futuristic tourist feature set anong a medieval castle complete with fortified ramparts made from local materials.
There also promises to be free access to a courtyard offering a taster of medieval activities and a gateway to Sherwood Forest which will keep its free public access.
And there are major plans to promote the natural habitats and history of the forest - led by the existing county council ranger team.
Discovery Attractions marketing director Rob Gray said Discover Robin Hood will provide a real ‘wow’ factor and focus for tourism and leisure in the area.
“Robin Hood is a global brand that deserves to be celebrated and where better to do this than at his spiritual home of Sherwood Forest,” he said.
“Discover Robin Hood will bring to life the story of Robin Hood in a way that is both entertaining and educational for kids and adults and alike.
Mr Gray added that the Discover Robin Hood attraction would have a ripple effect in terms of boosting the local economy.
“This is not just somewhere people can visit for an hour or two - it will be somewhere people will want to come and spend the whole day looking around,” he said.
“This means that people will be looking to stay at B&Bs in the Worksop and Retford area, as well as eating out and shopping here, which will really help the local economy.”
The council said there are currently around 10 staff employed at the visitor centre and they will all be given the option to transfer to the new site if the project gets the go-ahead.
The new attraction will be built on land acquired by the county council opposite the existing nature reserve and visitor centre - known locally as Naish’s Field - which will restore the current visitor centre and car park to the forest.
Discovery Attractions will now submit their planning application to Newark and Sherwood Council which they expect to be heard next year.
The first phase of the project includes a brand-new visitor centre, café and shop to replace the existing facilities will open in spring 2014, with the main attraction opening a year later.
Bob White, chairman of the World Wide Robin Hood Society, said: “These are exciting times for everyone who loves Robin Hood and it is wonderful to hear of these plans which will bring benefits to all - and in Robin Hood’s heartland of Sherwood Forest,” he said.
“Robin Hood is a powerful iconic brand and the outlaw himself would I am sure be extremely excited about what is being planned by Notts County Council and other agencies working together on these proposals.”