PLANS for a new welcome centre at Poole’s Upton Country Park have been approved.

The architects behind the scheme said they were “excited” council planners had given the proposals the go-ahead.

“The new landscape-led heritage attraction will provide a high-quality experience for visitors and the local community,” said.

The plans, which form part of a wider £1.9 million project to improve the park, will see the current toilet block in the car park demolished and replaced with a modern building to welcome visitors.

The new welcome centre was designed on behalf of BCP Council.

Western Design Architects said in a statement accompanying the planning application that the new welcome centre would provide a “high quality visitor experience” and create “a central information point for visitors”.

On entering the new building, visitors will be greeted with a large-scale map of the park, supported on barrels. The map will include references to points of interest and suggest trails to follow.

‘Low-tech’ interactive features aimed at youngsters will “help them connect with some of the stories about the country park’s abundant wildlife, its trade connections with other places in the world, and the characters who have lived in the house”.

And ‘what’s on’ signage will promote activities on that day and wildlife that can be spotted.

The current toilet block was built in the 1990s but “detracts from the existing historic coach house on site and is confusing in its siting”, architects say.

The new welcome centre will feature toilet facilities, including a family changing room and a disabled toilet.

The existing dog washing facility outside the building will also be kept outside the proposed new welcome centre.

“The new facility is a dynamic modern building with a material palette that reflects the landscape,” Western Design Architects said.

“In addition, it will allow the park to introduce its heritage through creative interpretation and provide a link between the Upton Country Park team and visitors, whilst extending a commercial reach through the selling of refreshments and/or gifts.”

Among the other proposals that form part of the park’s Discovery Project are building a bird hide on the park’s shoreline and a new visitor trail to link new installations with information about the park’s history.

A bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is due to be made in the autumn and the park will need to make a £325,000 contribution to the £1.9m bid.

BCP Council and Friends of Upton Country Park are providing the majority of the funds needed.