THE Chesil Beach Visitor Centre at Ferrybridge has been highly commended at the prestigious Royal Town Planning Institute South West Awards 2014.

The centre, owned by the council but operated by Dorset Wildlife Trust, was recognised in the "Schemes on the Ground" category at the awards for providing high quality information, interpretation, educational resources and the restaurant.

Cllr Mike Byatt, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council management committee chairman, said: “The extension of the original Chesil Beach Centre has been a longstanding aim of the borough council and we are proud to have our hard work recognised in this way by the Royal Town Planning Institute.

“The centre has been a real success and the Dorset Wildlife Trust has done a fantastic job running the building, making it a popular educational attraction and an exciting place to visit on Portland.”

Dr Sam Rose, Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site Manager: "The Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre is a fantastic place for people to explore and enjoy Chesil Beach, the Fleet lagoon and this part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

"This highly commended award reflects the huge amount of work that the partnership has put into making the centre happen over the last 10 years, and is great news."

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council coordinated the £1.2m project to provide the centre which is situates on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site, and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as a range of local and other partners including The Crown Estate.

The project helped inspire the creation of the ‘Natural Weymouth & Portland Partnership’ for environmental organisations to share expertise, pool resources, undertake joint publicity and work together on joint projects for the future benefit of the local area, community and environment.

Brian Bleese, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Director of Operations, said: “This award is a fantastic recognition of what can be achieved with partnership working and support from local people and volunteers.

“The Chesil Beach Visitor Centre is a high quality, well designed building which is functional for the local community and provides support for the local economy and tourism industry.

It is a fantastic place for people to engage with their natural environment, and learn how to conserve and protect wildlife.

“Dorset Wildlife Trust is very proud to have been part of this project, which has created an Olympic Legacy for future generations to enjoy, and contributes towards the management and success of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.”

The Chesil Beach Visitor Centre project was coordinated by the borough council is leased from the Crown Estate and is sublet to the Dorset Wildlife Trust.

In addition to leasing the site, The Crown Estate also invested to support the development of the centre and allocated £50,000 from its marine stewardship fund to install new interpretation displays inside the centre.

Neil Jacobson, Portfolio Manager at The Crown Estate said: “The centre provides an excellent local amenity for people to enjoy and a valuable insight into the fascinating natural environment here at Chesil Beach. It’s great to see the efforts of everyone involved with this project being rewarded.”