Our proposal

What are you proposing to build?

A café, toilets (including accessible toilets) and a small play area. This will be built on the amenity grass area adjacent to the Thorpe Meadows car park, with views over the rowing lake.

Why is this needed at Thorpe Meadows?

Thorpe Meadows has grown in popularity over the last few years, but we currently do not have any visitor facilities onsite. We want visitors to be able to spend longer at Thorpe Meadows, providing them with a place to meet friends, pick up a post-workout coffee, use the toilets or just relax and enjoy the stunning setting of the rowing lake and sculptures.

What will it look like?

The building will be low level and form an L-shape to provide a courtyard outdoor area with outdoor seating and a small play area to keep smaller members of the family entertained. There will also be a small space for indoor seating for wet weather days

How much do you expect to increase visitor numbers?

We do not expect to increase numbers greatly in this part of the Park. Instead we want our current visitors to have an enhanced and extended experience in this area. By providing an area for refreshments and with toilets, visitors can spend longer and make more of a visit here.

Who are you working with on this project?

We are working with ISO spaces, an award winning, innovative company that designs and manufactures bespoke modular buildings from recycled shipping container units. We are also working with Landscape Architects SLR, who did the original site design and engineers Stirling Maynard, who are doing the services engineering.

Access, traffic and parking

As part of the project we will be improving our traffic management into the existing car park. We will also be preventing traffic from using the access road to the rowing lake (apart from Rowing Club users), to ensure a safe pedestrian area for visitors to access the lake and café.


The proposed site for the café has very little habitat value. Our surveys have shown that there are no priority species in the area which will be affected and there will therefore be very little impact to wildlife and the habitat surrounding the site. The vast majority of trees will be retained and additional tree planting is planned. 

About Nene Park Trust / The finances

Is Nene Park Trust a charity?

Yes. Nene Park Trust was established in 1988 to ensure the protection and maintenance of the Park. The charity’s objective is to provide a recreational opportunity for visitors and improve the quality of life of the local community.

What else does Nene Park Trust offer in the Park?

There are a wide range of activities and experiences available here in the Park. From the Nene Outdoors Watersports and Activity centre and the Lakeside Kitchen and Bar to our Visitor Centre and play areas, there are opportunities for everyone to have a great time.

You look after the Park – how are you going to run the café?

We will work with a catering partner who will deliver the café service similar to the way in which the cafés, we currently have in the park at Ferry Meadows, are run. 

How will Nene Park Trust benefit from this?

Rent and a percentage of the takings form the café partner will go directly back into the Park's finances to protect and look after the Park for years to come.

How can Nene Park Trust afford to do this?

Nene Park Trust does hold a large endowment fund. However, under its constitution it is only permitted to spend the income generated from its endowment fund and cannot spend the capital.

Since the Trust began in 1988, other reserves have accrued and, in more recent years, these reserves have been used to improve a number of features in the Park, including the creation of the Nene Outdoors watersports centre and Lakeside Kitchen and Bar in Ferry Meadows, Park signs and furniture and the new Otter and Badger playgrounds to name just a few. The café at Thorpe Meadows will also be financed from the Trust’s reserves

The charity relies heavily on the investment income generated from its reserves to fund the day to day running costs of Nene Park. The Trust has a 999 year lease and therefore needs to maintain the real value of its reserves in the long term, so as to generate the much-needed investment income required to protect the Park for many years to come.

What happens next?

When do you expect the new centre to be finished?

It is anticipated the new café will be constructed in spring 2023 and be operational by summer 2023.