New hut approved to greet visitors at Kinver Edge Rock Houses

Visitors to the Rock Houses at Kinver Edge will be greeted at a new hut after plans were approved for the National Trust attraction.

The Rock Houses at Kinver Edge
The Rock Houses at Kinver Edge

The houses at the South Staffordshire beauty spot are carved out of sandstone and were home to several families during the 19th century but have become a tourist attraction in more recent decades.

The National Trust owns and manages around 228 hectares (563 acres) of land in Kinver Edge. While access to the countryside is free, there is an admission fee for non-National Trust members visiting the Rock Houses, which they pay at a reception hut located along a path leading from the parking area.

This building is now set to be upgraded after South Staffordshire Council granted approval for a replacement hut.

A supporting statement submitted to the authority as part of the planning application said: “The existing visitor reception hut is small and basic. It provides very minimal shelter for our reception staff or volunteers while waiting for visitors and a small amount of storage space for leaflets and a chair.

“It has no power, water, heating or drainage. There is no room within the hut to interact with visitors: all activity takes place outside.

One of the Kinver Edge Rock Houses

“We want a larger hut that would provide better conditions for our staff and volunteers and improve our ability to recruit new members. The enlarged space would allow us to install a woodburner and to take visitors inside the building when we are taking their details as part of recruitment. There would still be no power, water or drainage.

“Most interaction with visitors would still take place outside the building, such as checking membership cards, providing information or selling admission. So, in addition, we want the building to have an overhang at the front to provide a degree of weather protection.”

The Compton Road site is located in the West Midlands green belt, where the proposed structure would normally be considered inappropriate development.

But a report to South Staffordshire Council’s planning committee said that there were “very special circumstances” to allow the new hut to be built at the site.

The report added: “The Rock Houses are an important heritage asset and the new visitor reception hut will assist in maintaining the site moving forwards. Prior to Covid, in 2019, there were about 69,000 visitors to the Rock Houses.

“The existing hut has a very small floor area of 3.4 sq m and the proposal is for 7.2m; that is an extra 3.8m. This is not excessive, and (will) allow for better working conditions and improvements to visitor interaction and recruitment to allow for the National Trust to continue their work at Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses.”

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