The Calanais Visitor Centre has welcomed visitors to the Calanais Standing Stones for over 21 years and with more than 45,000 people visiting the centre annually, it is enjoying unrivalled success.
However the current building and facilities are no longer sufficient to cope with visitor numbers and a plan to redevelop the centre and provide a boost to the local area has been created.
The Urras nan Tursachan (Standing Stones Trust) UNT is being the project and the Chair of UNT, Donaldd MacArthur explained: “The Urras have been actively looking to redevelop the Visitor Centre over the last five years.
“Plans are now at an advanced the stage and we wish to gain feedback as widely as possible to help us shape the future of the Visitor Centre and in particular how the site is integrated within the wider Hebridean heritage.
“This is a unique opportunity not only to improve the facilities for the many who visit us from all over the world, but also to invigorate the Centre’s engagement with the community within which this world heritage site is located.”
The redeveloped Visitor Centre will include a larger, upgraded ‘Story of the Stones’ interpretation, and will use a variety of methods and modern technology to convey the story to visitors.
Heritage information will feature throughout the Visitor Centre and external areas, and plans are being developed to offer a range of heritage projects and activities throughout the year. The gift shop will be expanded but will remain in the existing building.
The new build ‘extension’ element will contain a larger cafe and facilities which will continue to enjoy stunning views across Loch Roag.
Parking will be increased, with the inclusion of accessible parking bays.
Anna MacKay, Development Officer for UNT, said: “The majority of this year has been spent focussing on funding applications, with key stakeholders; Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and the local community.
“Funding has already been granted by the Community Capital Grant Fund, and a stage 1 application to the Scottish Regeneration Capital Grant Fund was successful.
“Funding applications to HLF, HIE and stage 2 SRCGF will be submitted towards the end of the year, with the aim of securing all funding by next year.”
The proposals are on display inside the Visitor Centre, and are currently being exhibited inside the Lews Castle Museum, until November 18th.
As well as being able to view the plans, members of the public are encouraged to submit feedback on the project proposals by completing a short survey which will be provided alongside the plans.