During the months of February, March and April 2018 we embarked on a rather full consultation period to collect feedback and data about our visitors’ requirements for the new viewing hub. We used lots of different methods in order to collect as much data as possible, including surveys, focus groups, Q&A sessions, voting boards, comment boards and comment cards. A few dedicated volunteers even went off site, to Gunpowder Mills, to talk to people that don’t already visit the reserve. We wanted to see if there was anything we could include in the new viewing hub that may encourage those who don’t already visit to spend some time at Rye Meads.

We were delighted with the amount of data we collected from this consultation process and want to say a huge thank you to everybody who took the time to provide feedback. The challenge was then for our project team to collate all of the information, analyse it, summarise it and turn it into a design brief for the next stage of the project! We wanted to use all of the information collected to create a design brief that will allow the designers to identify practical, functional, imaginative solutions to the challenges and opportunities that were recognised during the consultation process.

We are currently adding the finishing touches to the design brief and will then be inviting a selection of designers to tender for creating the design of the new viewing hub during June/July. As part of the tender process the designers will be asked to submit ideas, or concept designs, and we will be asking our visitors to ‘vote’ for which idea/concept they like the best. This process, we feel, will truly help us select a designer who understands the requirements of all of our audiences and it gives our visitors the chance to help us create a viewing hub that is truly fit for its purpose.

While all of this is going on our dedicated fundraiser is exploring funding options for us. The construction of this hide will need to be funded 100% externally and we would love to hear from anyone who could help.

Watch this space for more news and updates coming soon.