Friends of Sherwood Forest ... RSPB & NVC ( New Visitor Centre ).
The RSPB have taken over the running Sherwood Forest from Nottingham County Council so perhaps a few words would not come amiss on this subject. To whet your appetite try Googling RSPB Congleton, I felt sickened at what I read, if you need any more Google RSPB Sir Ian Botham, happy hunting.
Back to basics, the Old Visitor Centre ( OVC ) had to be removed from the Forest by Law by 2010, well 8 years later a New Visitor Centre was opened and here is it's story. The County Council put out a tender for the Construction and running of the NVC and the RSPB was awarded the Contract. The early stages of Consultation and Planning were dreadful, if you did not fall into line with total agreement with the proposed plans you were Demonised, and so it was with the FoSF, we had all sorts of problems to contend with. The first one to surface was the Edwinstowe Parish Council, I had experienced one incident of intimidation and an offensive phone call from one Parish Councillor but at the time I soon brushed it off but to my horror found a Libellous article in issue 14 of the Parish Magazine slating me and saying I did no know what I was talking about,
it really was quite nasty and it was obvious it was written like that, a total pack of lies, this rubbish was distributed to every household in and around Edwinstowe at ratepayers expense, ........absolutely livid about it, make your own mind up ..... here. All the claims made against us were a complete pack of lies, there were 4 people involved one of which was not a Councillor, but by a strange coincidence his surname was Woodhead, the exact same as the Construction Company who were awarded the Contract to build the centre, silly coincidence, or what ? Well as if getting slagged off by the Parish Council at the expense of the local ratepayers was not bad enough there was more to come. The Public Consultation was more revealing as two sessions had been arranged, I attended the first held in the Public Library, a vote was taken as to the location of the NVC as there was considerable opposition to the proposed site and more so when a Field adjacent to the Forest had been purchased a few years back for the siting of the NVC. The vote was unanimous, there was total objection to building on Forest Corner, the second meeting with the local populous produced the same result total opposition to the proposed site and the arguments were well founded. Apart from anything else the RSPB proposed to run a road to the Village Cemetery through their own car park for the NVC. Anyone attending a funeral would have to battle through the Car Park and no doubt have to pay the RSPB for parking, that's if they could find a place to park, well at least the Hearse would be OK as it would be taken into the Cemetery grounds and parked up in there, pity about the mourners they were left with a Bun Fight to park up, and no one for the RSPB gave a SH!T. My blood boiled instantly and at a consultation session with the RSPB I told one of the Directors they were a Damned Disgrace over this matter, not very clever on my part as his face started twitching, I really thought he was going to thump me but after about 20 seconds he stormed off in a complete rage, it was at this point I realized I had made my point. The thoughts of a Villager not being able to make his or Her last journey on this Earth to their Grave with Dignity and respect was abhorrent, the RSPB soon climbed down and revised plans after that Ding Dong The plans soon afterwards showed a separate service road to the Cemetery. One small step for Aidie one giant leap for the Community.
Having seen the final plans there was so much wrong and the whole set up was maniacal that I had to set about presenting a formal objection to Newark and Sherwood Council, yes and one was duly submitted with 34 pages and five thousand five hundred words, the presentation was superb, the content was honest. A copy of it can be had ... HERE ( When Available )
The planning process was a closed shop ( Not going before an open Committee ) permission would be granted when Newark & Sherwood District Council were satisfied that everything was OK, ........ it was on a merry go round until they gave it the thumbs up, so the logical conclusion was that permission was granted to build on the proposed site on Forest Corner, despite strong local opposition Down came 69 trees to make way for this mess and 9 months later the doors were open on what they described as a State of the Art World Class Visitor Centre, plus 4.1.million pounds of public money going into it from Nottingham County Council, I would have taken the lot out the back of the Council House and had them shot for it.
All our fears and concerns were realized plus some others that could not be foreseen, the interior consisted of a small shop selling Birdie goodies and then one descends downstairs to the Canteen, it was supposed to be a restaurant but some bright spark decided it was going to be different, and it was. The interior is furnished with long bench tables which make it difficult for wheelchair users to negotiate, the idea behind the long tables was that it was more chummy despite small family groups prefer a little bit of privacy when they sit down to eat, hey the RSPB must have thought about that because separate tables were provided outside so if you wanted to be in a quiet zone you could sit in the rain instead.
Robin Hood has been virtually expelled from the Centre for being an outlaw, bit like the FoSF, Demonised for their honesty and Integrity, well lets be downright honest there is one wall in the Canteen that sports some old Robin Hood posters and that your lot. Now if you think this is all a load of Baloney then get yourself onto Tripadvisor and read some of the appalling comments left on there, and it's not uncommon to read that people have stated it was so bad that they would never go back again as it was a waste of time and money. Aidies recommendation on this, please do not forsake the Forest, it is beautiful if somewhat neglected but please do go, and when you want a Meal turn around and walk across the road to the Robin Hood Craft Centre, there is an excellent Cafe there and the food and it's presentation are superb with an extensive menu and the prices are as you would expect excellent. Highly recommended, and if you want a memento of your visit then there are small craft shops clustered around the atrium with all sorts of gifts from pictures to semi precious gems on sale, even the Loos have far better access than the NVC does.
Up and Running, well as I already stated there are problems and some that could not be foreseen, but please read this in conjunction with our planning objection to gain a more realistic idea of what life is like on Forest Corner. Since the opening there have been many problems that have arisen, one of which is the fact that the Loos at the NVC are below the level of the main sewer pipe that runs down he road so everything Loo like has to be pumped up to street level so it can flow away to the sewage works, well that's fine in theory but there has been an acrid stench emanating from the pond that was constructed over the SUDS ( Underground Drainage for foul Water ) . What the exact problem is has not been established and to be fair the stench is intermittent, however a walk down Forest Corner Roadway and the foul stench of sewage soon greets you and it is powerful, my guess here is that the main sewer pipe down the roadway is overloaded at festival times and week ends with excess build up of gasses escaping everywhere.
The design of the building is a total one off, and as such problems can be readily seen regarding workmanship with screws or annular nails sticking out of the roofing ply underneath where the roofers they have missed their target with the nail guns i.e. the Glulam beams, laminated softwood beams designed to be stronger than the real thing, however the quality of the timber used is not of the best quality. Apart from the loose screw problem the horizontal roof beams project at the ends and are exposed to the elements, resulting in the possibility of early rot setting in ... did I say something funny .. LOL Not to mention the protective coating applied to the beams is now after only a year is shelling off to reveal bare timber to the elements..
Well I could go one and on but go see for yourself, and mind the car parks as there are only spaces for about 80 cars on Tarmac and 200 cars on plastic grid, the remaining parking is on GRASS, so be extra careful and mind the wet weather unless you want to be towed out by tractor. Oh and the main car park is at the bottom end of Forest Corner across a busy minor road ( Swinecoat Road ) while the NVC is at the top end of Forest Corner, well it will get you limbered up for your walk around the Forest.