An artists's impression of the proposed visitor facilities for Lady Anne's Drive

Planning & Development

Lady Anne's Drive Visitor Facilities

Holkham National Nature Reserve was designated in 1967 due to the range of habitats and wildlife it supports. Much of the reserve is former saltmarsh that had been reclaimed by the Coke family since the mid-17th century for grazing sheep and cattle. Today the grazing marshes are nationally important for wintering wildfowl and breeding birds such as Lapwing, Avocet and Spoonbill. There can be few people who have not been moved by the sheer scale and beauty of the beach and the wide variety of wildlife found on the reserve but the lack of lavatories has been a major source of dissatisfaction for the 800,000 people who come to the reserve each year.

In 2012 the estate appointed architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) to work on plans for a visitor centre that would provide lavatories and a modest refreshment facility, but most importantly, to provide a centre to inform and educate visitors of all ages about the diversity of the reserve and to increase awareness for the need to protect this special habitat. FCBS are one of the leading practices in the UK and are noted for their commitment to sustainable architecture. In 2008 FCBS won the Stirling Prize which is widely regarded as the highest accolade in architecture.

Planning permission was granted in December 2015 and the estate further appointed Wymondham based architects, Lucas + Western Architects, to manage the detailed delivery of the building and complete the project. The estate also appointed local structural engineers, Plandescil of Attleborough, to undertake the complex engineering works associated with the building.

The construction of The Lookout was awarded to local company, Robson Construction Ltd, who, as a major building contractor in the Norfolk area, the company has been responsible for several major projects on the Holkham Estate. Robson completed the project in August 2018.

Project Progress Diary

11th September 2017 – Construction work commenced.

22nd November 2017 – The mound was formed and all concrete piling completed. The scrapes were established and it was expected that the structure would start to become visible in the new year.

6th April 2018 – Steel frame of the building was completed and at the time, the wooden curved plates for the exterior shell were being constructed ready to be installed later in the month.

1st May 2018 – Steelwork now fully completed and install of timber frame started.

1st May 2018 - Steel work now fully complete and timber frame being installed.

25th May 2018 – First fix electrics were underway at this point and boarding to the roof completed.


11th June – Work was progressing at a good rate and was on course for completion for late summer as planned.


August 2018 – The Lookout is currently having a soft opening and will be fully completed in Autumn.