A NEW wildlife area aims to help visitors make the most of their trip to a Hampshire beauty spot.

A sensory cottage garden has opened at Lepe Country Park as part of a multi-million-pound scheme to transform the 120-acre site.

The garden, aimed mainly at disabled people and groups of schoolchildren, includes a bug hotel, a wildflower garden and a pagoda for climbing plants.

Paths through the area enable visitors to view a wide range of flowers such as hydrangeas, azaleas and petunias.

Cllr Andrew Gibson, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for culture, recreation and countryside, said: “The sensory garden is a special addition to the site.

“It’s a dedicated space which encourages visitors to explore lots of different senses such as sight, smell and sound in such a tranquil setting. We hope the garden will be well used as it flourishes through the summer and beyond.”

The Friends of Lepe removed vegetation from the Lepe Point site to make way for the attraction, which occupies what was once the site of the Solent Cottage garden.

Cllr Gibson said he wanted to thank everyone who had helped by donating time, money and equipment.

He added: “We hope to add to the sensory features over time, including bubble lights, mirrors and chimes so keep returning regularly to see the additions.”

Gilly Drummond from the nearby Cadland Estate performed the opening ceremony.

As reported in the Daily Echo the county council is also building a cafe-on-stilts that aims to beat rising sea levels and tidal storm surges.

The existing eatery and visitor centre at Lepe Country Park is being replaced by a new complex with a unique design that reflects that dramatic impact of climate change.

Three years ago the current complex suffered £100,000 of damage after it was flooded.

The improvement programme at Lepe Country Park, visited by 300,000 people a year, is due to cost a total of £2.7 million.