A PROJECT to build the new Hengistbury Head visitor centre incurred unforeseen costs of £135,600, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The scheme ran over budget because the council decided to completely re-thatch the building to save costs and disruption in the long-term. This cost an additional £54,000 and there was an extra £81,600 in additional contractual instructions.

These extra costs were met from service unit budgets and meant the total budget increased to £1,279,400 and the total spend was £1,282,000. The Hengistbury Head visitor centre opened earlier this year and there was a formal celebration with wildlife expert Chris Packham in April.

At around this time, Bournemouth council announced it planned to bring the privately-run land train service in-house, sparking speculation this was to compensate for an overspend on the visitor centre. Bournemouth council recently reversed this decision and gave the current operators a new three-year contract.

Michael Rowland, parks development manager, said: “Since the new visitor centre opened last December it has been a great success with more than 50,000 visitors coming to the centre to learn about the area’s rich heritage.

“In order to invest in this historic building a complete re-thatching was carried out, instead of repairing the existing thatch which was originally intended. This came at an additional cost but will ensure further costs and disruption are avoided in the long term. With the summer season upon us I would encourage the public to come and enjoy this fantastic resource at this important historic site.”