Thursday 26 January 2023
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Nottingham

Celebration as new £3m planetarium in Nottinghamshire confirmed

One of Ashfield District Council’s Towns Fund projects takes another leap forward with an incredible £3.1 million funding confirmed.

The Council has been working with Mansfield and Sutton Astronomical Society who have developed the plans for Sherwood Observatory, Sutton, which will see a planetarium and educational centre join the observatory as part of the Council’s £62.6 million Towns Fund.

The plans for the observatory will create a unique experience that will draw visitors from across the East Midlands, and beyond, to Ashfield.

The news of the funding follows the planning application submitted by Mansfield and Sutton Astronomical Society to Ashfield District Council in November 2022. Subject to match funding, the project will soon be underway.

Cllr Matthew Relf, Executive Lead Member for Regeneration and Corporate Transformation, said

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“I am over the moon that Ashfield District Council working with Sherwood Observatory and Discovery Ashfield has secured  £3.1 million funding from the Levelling Up Fund.

“The observatory is one of Ashfield’s greatest assets and Mansfield & Sutton Astronomical Society (MSAS) have developed a great plan to turn it into a fantastic visitor and educational centre.

“The Council have previously committed funding, as well as securing funding for the project through our £62.6million Towns Fund as we know how fantastic the plans for the observatory are.

“It will bring enormous benefits it will bring to the local economy, and education, in Ashfield, and will draw visitors from across the East Midlands. The observatory is one of our key projects that will have a positive impact on Ashfield’s local tourism and help shape ambitions for future generations.”

Planetarium project manager Steve Wallace said:

“Securing the Levelling Up Round 2 contribution marks an important milestone in the project journey. Subject to securing the matched funding work can start on the development in the middle of this year and the new centre will be open and fully operational by our ideal time frame of autumn 2024.

“It will be a jewel in the crown of the local visitor economy, creating a unique tourist attraction that will help put this area on the map and attract people from across the UK to Ashfield.”

Local business leader and chair of the project board, Martin Rigley, said.

“The jobs and prosperity of our area will be increasingly dependent on having a STEM-educated workforce.

“The new planetarium and visitor centre will play a key role in presenting these subjects in an exciting and hands-on way to raise awareness of the opportunities a STEM career can unlock.”

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