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Mammoth plans for the future

A deal has been struck to transfer the ownership of Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre and lease 12 hectares of surrounding meadow land to a local charity.

The centre has been owned by housing provider Connexus since 2014 and managed by local charity Grow Cook Learn. The deal will see outright ownership transferred free of charge to the charity, and 12 hectares of local meadow gifted to Craven Arms Town Council, which will lease it to Grow Cook Learn.  

It’s hoped the move will allow the new owners to apply for additional funding to deliver a range of ambitious projects in and around the centre, which will benefit the community and local wildlife. 

Grant Wilson, manager at the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, said: “We’re delighted to be the new owners. Acquiring the freehold and a long lease on the meadows is a really positive step for our charity.

“We have big plans for the future which we hope will help the centre to grow and attract more visitors. These include starting a regenerative horticulture project, creating a wetland area in part of our meadows and refurbishing the shop and café areas. Our vision is for the centre to be something which the local community can take pride in, and which becomes a well-loved place to discover nature, relax with friends or learn about our food, history and the landscape.”

Richard Woolley, chief executive at Connexus, said: “We're pleased to contribute to the long-term sustainability of a much-loved local amenity by transferring the freehold of the centre to Grow Cook Learn.

“The gifting of the meadows to Craven Arms Town Council will ensure that it is in public ownership again and we’re delighted Grow Cook Learn have come to an agreement with the town council to manage the area. We wish the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre the very best for the future.”

Chair of Grow Cook Learn charity trustees, Charles Edwards, said the centre had been on “an amazing journey since April 2014” and was proud of the staff, volunteers, charity members, centre users and others who had helped them along the way.

Chair of Craven Arms Town Council, David Mills, said: “We are delighted to have worked with Connexus and Grow Cook Learn on this deal. The transfer of the meadow land from the council on a 99-year lease will benefit the local community and visitors to the area and ensure the land remains as open countryside.”