Plans for a £700,000 revamp of one of the county’s historic landmarks have been unveiled.
The National Trust aims to build a new visitor centre at the birth place of Dorchester ’s most famous son Thomas Hardy.
The aim of the Heritage Lottery Fund bid is to boost visitor facilities at Hardy’s Cottage at Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester.
The National Trust has lodged the bid with Dorset County Council.
It aims to build the centre a short distance away from the property on the edge of nearby Thorncombe Woods.
Dorchester town crier and tourist guide Alistair Chisholm welcomed the plans.
He said: “I am delighted that the National Trust is planning to do this.
“I am totally supportive of it.”
He said that it was important that the complex had toilets as well as educational facilities.
Mr Chisholm also stressed the importance of Thomas Hardy as the gateway to everything that Dorchester and Dorset has to offer.
He said that Hardy covered everything in the course of his writings, from prehistory onwards.
He added: “This visitor centre can only be a good thing.
“Visitors contribute highly to our local economy.”
Mr Chisholm added that it would also bolster any ‘Hardy Country’ brand. The proposed centre is planned to be a short distance from Hardy’s Cottage so as not to affect its appearance and setting.
It is also proposed to include a cafe in the scheme.
The results of the bid are expected in the autumn.
The cottage was built by Hardy’s great-grandfather in 1800 and the writer was born there in 1840.
Hardy wrote his 1874 novel Far From the Madding Crowd at the property.
Hardy’s later home was Max Gate in Alington Avenue, Dorchester, where he lived from 1885 until his death in 1928.
He wrote much of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure and The Mayor of Casterbridge at Max Gate as well as much of his poetry.