GRAND plans for Rutland Water will mean a £940,000 investment in volunteering and tourism in the county next year.
The Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust wants to build a £820,000 volunteer centre near Hambleton.
Anglian Water has announced it is planning a £120,000 redevelopment of Sykes Lane, Empingham, including a mini-golf course.
Both developments aim to attract more people to the area and build on what is already there.
Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust director Simon Bentley says the volunteer centre will act as a hub for the reserve’s 350 volunteers and as a training centre for conservationists.
He said: “Rutland Water Nature Reserve is now 1,000 acres of land and water with diverse habitats.
“On top of that we have water sports, the osprey project and the Bird Fair.
“Our 350 volunteers give 40,000 hours of unpaid work a year and as they have shown such commitment to us we need to invest in them.”
At the moment working groups who manage the reserve are involved in coppicing, reed bed management and even building work. They meet in the mornings but have nowhere to use as a base.
The new centre would be built next to lagoon four on the site that has been used as a contractors’ base during the work to build lagoons. This was to protect wildlife as more water is taken from the reservoir.
The new centre will have a green roof, showers, changing rooms, training rooms and an observation floor for wildlife watching.
The trust has spent 16 months working with the Lottery Heritage Fund on a bid for money and is expecting to find out if it is successful in March. Anglian Water and The Caterpillar Foundation have also agreed to contribute to the project.
A planning application has been submitted to Rutland County Council.
Mr Bentley said: “I think this is an exciting development for Rutland Water and is giving back to the volunteers who have given so much over the years.
“It is an investment in the future. We could not do everything we do without them.
“Volunteers are vital to the whole activity that we undertake at Rutland Water.”
Anglian Water is planning on investing in the Sykes Lane site in Empingham next year.
It already has a park, a cafe and visitor centre and hosts events such as Rutland Day each year, but is not as popular with tourists and residents as the other sites at Whitwell, Egleton and Normanton.
Visitor operations manager for Anglian Water Kevin Appleton said: “We hope to construct a mini-golf course, similar to those you’ll find at other visitor attractions, in the new year ready to be opened in the spring.
“The investment is part of our ongoing commitment to make all of our water parks great places to visit. At Empingham this investment also includes improvements to the visitor centre.”
View the planning applications online at www.rutland.gov.uk