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3rd May 2024

Plans submitted for Langley Vale Wood Visitor Shelter

Bath based practices Mark Wray Architects and Grant Associates have submitted plans for an innovative new visitor shelter for The Woodland Trust’s First World War centenary wood at Langley Vale Wood in Epsom, Surrey.

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At 259 hectares, Langley Vale Wood is the largest of The Woodland Trust’s four First World War centenary woods. The site, which was used for training during the war, has been transformed in the last decade into a nature haven and a living memorial for those who sacrificed so much. Evocative stone and wooden sculptures are dotted around the site, which features a network of trails, footpaths and bridleways for visitors to enjoy a mosaic of natural habitats and woodlands.

The proposed design of the new visitor shelter is for a large wooden structure inspired by the leafy canopy of ancient beech trees. Seven double arch, glulam timber bays will create a 24m long shelter, providing a welcoming entry space to the site, basic protection from the elements and an accessible area for temporary exhibitions. The structure will be sympathetic to the landscape and built from sustainable natural materials. The opportunity to enhance local biodiversity is central to the landscape strategy including the use of local provenance seed stock harvested from the site to extend the species rich chalk grassland.

The core design team for the project, led by Mark Wray Architects, includes Grant Associates (landscape architects), Fold Consulting Engineers (structural engineers), Woodenhouse (timber specialists), Western Building Consultants (quantity surveyors/principal designers).

The wider team of consultants includes Navigate Planning (planning consultant), Nimbus Environmental Consulting (environmental consultants), Peter Radmall Associates (LIVA consultant), Southern Ecology Solutions (ecological consultant), Surrey County Archaeological Unit (archeology consultant) and SJA Trees (arboricultural consultant).

Mark Wray Architects originally won a RIBA Open Competition to design a visitor’s centre on the site in 2016. Following a revision to the brief, the practice went on to win a limited competition for this project in 2022.