Widewater Lagoon Local Nature Reserve Information Centre
For a couple of years now WOW has been developing the possibility of replacing our old dilapidated information booth at the Eastern end of the lagoon. We envisage a new single story brick building that is environmentally friendly, easily accessible, and in harmony with the surrounding local nature reserve. It would be visually modern, yet neat and unobtrusive and with the minimum of maintenance. A covered outside seating area would enable visitors to sit and watch nature with some protection from the rain.
In 2016 we undertook a questionnaire with the local residents and visitors to gauge public opinion, and we were much encouraged by the positive feedback.
The Widewater Lagoon, as one of the few saline lagoons in the country, is ideally suited for an information centre. Alongside/possibly attached to this new build information centre is the potential to have new public toilets built with a changing places toilet for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well as people with other physical disabilities – such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis – who often need extra equipment and space to allow them to use the toilets safely and comfortably. The local Council are supportive of this project in particular the changing places toilets that could potentially receive government funding.
Inside the building, we envisage a large, open, multi-functional space, with adaptable seating, perhaps stacking benches, in order to accommodate a class of school children.
It is hoped that the centre will provide a meeting place for The World of Widewater (WOW) to hold meetings and as a base for their and others’ activities such as flower walks, bird walks, and litter picks. This will also be extended to include local community groups such as walking and cycling groups, birding groups, schools, scouts, WI etc.
We are very much at the early stage of developing ideas and possible funding sources. A sub-committee of WOW is currently putting together a bid for Rampion funding to enable us to carry out a feasibility study and create a design brief. We will have a public consultation phase later on in the project if we are able to develop it further, and will be posting updates on its progress on the web site.
The project is needed:
- To inform and educate visitors and residents, and provide a sheltered area to sit and enjoy the wildlife and birdlife of this unique local nature reserve.
- So that the Centre could be hired out commercially to these groups for meetings, social activities, and public awareness days.
- To enable schools and youth groups to visit and hold educational activities that would inform and educate young and older people on conservation and foster their appreciation of nature.
- To enhance Visitors’ and the Community’s appreciation of Nature and Conservation
- To ensure that the Widewater lagoon continues to attract new species and develops to remain vibrant and alive for visitors and the community
Widewater is such an asset to Lancing and the more education that can be provided, in various forms, the better chance that people will treat the Local Nature Reserve with respect.
We hope the project will bring local people together and endorse community ownership by supporting our activities such as: flower walks, bird walks, litter picks, controlling invasive species and other such World of Widewater and West Sussex Ranger projects. Our nature and environmental activities have helped us to forge new links with other local nature groups such as Friends of Shoreham Beach ( F.O.S.B ) Worthing Conservation Society and Shoreham and District Ornithological Society ( S.D.O.S ) We have recently completed a project, through a local initiative grant, to provide information panels along the lagoon depicting the various species found here. We hope to encourage local schools, scouts, guides, community groups to use the signs as a basis for fun and educational group activities that bring people together, and it would be an amazing asset to have a proper meeting/educational hub to facilitate this.
On warm summer days visitors to the area swell the numbers to hundreds, many of whom enjoy a leisurely walk along the Widewater lagoon as an enjoyable part of a day on the coast. We also have many walkers who arrive from the western end, strolling to the lagoon from Beach Green, Lancing.
As the lagoon pathway is part of the Sustrans cycle track it is not unusual at weekends to have up to a hundred cyclists a day.
Currently there is a dilapidated booth which is too small for practical use, holds little storage, is damp and is in a very bad state of repair.
The current booth gives the impression that the area is not cared for.