THE CENTREPIECE of an East Hampshire beauty spot has reopened to the public following a £1.2m revamp.

The paint is barely dry on the new-look visitor centre at Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP) with the gloomy 1970s building being transformed into a light and airy hub.

The final curtain has fallen on the cinema and its surrounding walls with a glass-fronted and open plan atrium taking its place.

The cafe is now bathed in natural light and boasts extra indoor and outdoor seating, while there’s also a revamped menu that focuses on locally sourced produce and healthy options.

The centre reopened on Monday but civic chiefs were given a taste last Friday courtesy of senior architect, Rebecca Galbraith.

“It’s one of the most collaborative projects I’ve worked on but the team here at QECP have been amazing in coming up with ideas,” said the architect, adding that bats were discovered during the work.

“It would have been easy to knock it down but we’ve continued the life of the building as it’s the most eco-friendly thing to do.”

The revamp is part of a Country Park Transformation Project being led by the Countryside Service at Hampshire County Council (HCC). Some £3.2m has been set aside in a bid to make HCC’s five country parks “fit for the 21st century” and self-sufficient.

“This really is the most incredible facility,” said Councillor Sean Woodward, HCC Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage

“This is all part of an 18-month programme of improvements at all our country parks and the next one will be Staunton.

“The £1.2m we’ve spent on QECP is very significant. We’re trying to save money all the time, wherever we can, and what we’re really doing here is spending to save.

“By enhancing the country parks and bringing in measures like ANPR car parking we’re bringing in income and trying to make them all self-sufficient.”