A COUNTRY park is set to be transformed after planning bosses gave the green light for improvements worth more than £3m.

A new community building at High Hill Field, remodelling of Highwood Barn and Kingfisher Barn and better barbecue and picnic areas are just some of the changes due to be made at Itchen Valley Country Park. 

Backed by councillors at a meeting last week, the £3.3m scheme is designed to enhance the park's appeal as a family destination. 

A new central events and welcoming space at Highwood Barn is set to incorporate a covered outdoor seating area for customers at the Woodland Café.

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Whilst play equipment and parking will also get an upgrade.

Council Leader, Cllr Keith House, said it is "great news" that the plans have been given the go-ahead. 

Branding the project an "exciting range of improvements", he added: "Itchen Valley Country Park plays an important role in the wellbeing of local people, as well as visitors from further afield.

"The planned works will bring exciting new elements that will make it more versatile for a range of events and activities, while preserving it and as a valued local amenity, where Borough residents can enjoy its tranquil surroundings.”

Daily Echo: Visitors Centre at Itchen Valley Country Park.Visitors Centre at Itchen Valley Country Park.

The riverside access road is due to be diverted to keep vehicles away from pedestrians, whilst a new Changing Places room for disabled users is expected to provide greater accessibility. 

Funding for the improvements will come from developer contributions, the New Homes Bonus and borrowing repaid from future income.

Architects and master planners for scheme are RH Partnership Architects who also created the award-winning Lakeside Centre at Lakeside Country Park.

Phillip Naylor, company director, said: “RHP aim to create stimulating places for people to enjoy, live and work in, schemes that also benefit the wider community, using energy and natural resources in a considered, environment-friendly way.

"It’s been a pleasure to work with Eastleigh Borough Council to develop proposals for Itchen Valley County Park that will deliver huge benefits for the local and regional communities.”

The 440-acre country park is operated by Eastleigh Borough Council and is a regular recipient of the Keep Britain Tidy charity’s Green Flag Award.

It includes water meadows and woodland, waymarked trails, an indoor play area and an outdoor play trail whilst also being the home of Go Ape treetops adventure attraction.

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