ECO-FRIENDLY designs for a major expansion of the Earth Trust’s Little Wittenham base were unveiled at its annual supporters day.

Every year the chairman of Oxfordshire County Council presents a rose to the Earth Trust as a symbolic‘peppercorn rent’ as part of a historical agreement to allow the public free access to trust’s green spaces.

On Thursday council chairman Les Sibley presented the rose alongside presentations from trust head Jayne Manley and White Design, a sustainable build architect.

They gave an overview of their design ideas for the Earth Trust’s new skills and learning centre Earth Lab, and an upgrade of its Innovation Hub, to more than 90 attendees.

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Ms Manley speaking about the project, which is expected to get underway in the autumn, explained: “Earth Lab will be at the heart of Earth Trust Gateway, providing a stimulating, inspirational education space.

"Supporting our objective to engage people with their environment, learning opportunities will be built into the fabric of the structure itself.

She added: “The aim is to use the building as a demonstration of sustainability in action through the design, materials and construction methods used, together with the services on which the building will depend.”

The Earth Lab will provide a venue for all ages, doubling the educational space at the environmental charity and allowing it to expand to support STEM subjects, as well as skills-based learning for adults and people with special needs.

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Ellie Lasota from White Design said: “This amazing building, the Earth Lab will capture and lock in over 16 tonnes of atmospheric Co2 through its exposed timber frames and straw insulated wall panels.”

As well as creating the new education space, White Design will be transforming the current learning barn into a new Innovation Hub, which will act as a welcome centre for visitors.

Dr Robin Buxton, interim chair of trustees for the trust, which looks after 500 hectares of farmland, woodland, and wetland, said: “The countryside was a much more accessible space back when I was a child. The world is now a very different place, with many natural spaces closed off, but Earth Trust is championing accessible natural green spaces for all.”