New Virginia Water Pavilion formally opened

The Pavilion at Virginia Water was formally opened last week by The Crown Estate’s Chairman Sir Stuart Hampson.The Pavilion will provide much needed facilities for visitors to Virginia Water Lake, The Valley Gardens and the surrounding area of Windsor Great Park.

Based on a concept presented by architects Stanton Williams, the building will allow The Crown Estate to provide visitors with an enhanced kiosk-style refreshment offering providing hot and cold food throughout the year, public conveniences including baby changing facilities and it will act as a centre for visitor information and support. An external terrace will provide generous seating and offer enhanced views to Virginia Water Lake.

Chairman Sir Stuart Hampson said: “I am delighted to open this wonderful building today. The provision of high quality visitor facilities is important to The Crown Estate but the design of the new Pavilion also needed to respect the Grade I listed landscape in which the building sits. The new Pavilion represents a further investment by The Crown Estate in its visitor facilities and is complementary to the award-winning Savill Building.”

Philip Everett, Deputy Ranger, Windsor Great Park, added: “The design brief called for a building which was practical, attractive and unobtrusive. The architects have produced a ‘quiet’ design which fits within the landscape in an unassuming way, framing the historically important vista and providing a real sense of arrival for the estimated three-quarter million visitors who enter the Great Park at Virginia Water annually.”

The external cladding of the building has made extensive use of timber to provide a further means to reduce its impact and enable it to sit comfortably within a woodland glade. The timber has been grown and harvested on the Windsor estate where all forestry operations are FSC certified. 195 cubic metres of Douglas Fir have been used for the structure of the building, with 125 cubic metres of oak used for the cladding.

The Pavilion has been designed to be as sustainable a building as possible. With energy efficient LED lighting throughout, additional features include PV solar panel cells on the roof to generate energy, a rainwater harvesting system to reduce reliance on mains water for flushing toilets and air source heat pumps to provide background heating for the building.

James Wyatt, of Barton Wyatt Estate Agents in Virginia Water, said: “I saw the pavilion this morning and it looks ever so smart.

“Most people were slightly taken aback by the plans but what they have built fits in quite nicely with the surroundings.”

He added: “I remember when Virginia Water lake had no one there. It was deserted. But people travel a lot more now and it is absolutely packed.

“So they needed to change and the pavilion makes the whole experience better.”

Previously, there were no toilets on that side of the lake and refreshments were limited to the two mobile units which visit the site.

But it now has a permanent kiosk with refreshments, toilets and staff facilities.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England opposed the planning application in its early stages, but a spokesman said it now took a more “neutral stance”.

Estate agent Mr Wyatt added: “The reaction from many people is often to be against any new developments but the pavilion doesn’t impact on anybody. The only neighbours are the A30 and the Wheatsheaf Hotel.”

A note of caution came from Eric Leon, chairman of the Wentworth Residents’ Association, who said: “The A30 is increasingly busy. This will obviously get more visitors and the traffic is already pretty bad.

“Although I am concerned about that, it could be worse.

“I felt, like quite a lot of people, that it was an unnecessary development in the green belt.

“But I have to say, the design of the building is quite reasonable. You can at least see through it.”