CONKERS is an environmentally themed visitor centre at the heart of the National Forest in the East Midlands, which is operated by Planning Solutions Limited on behalf of the National Forest Company.

Since opening CONKERS has welcomed over 3 million visitors, including:

  • Over 700,000 visits from the community membership scheme
  • 450,000 education based visits
  • 165,000 people attending events

Planning Solutions have been involved with the project since 1998, when they were appointed, initially to research a brand and product concept for a visitor attraction that would provide a core visitor focal point for the National Forest. The longer term ambition was to create a visitor experience which would provide a strong focal point for tourism within the National Forest, and a significant ongoing income to the the National Forest Company to further its ambitions for the forest – including the extensive re-forestation and economic regeneration programmes.

CONKERS, which opened in 1999 initially as the National Forest Visitor Centre, was constructed on a former colliery site. The first phase was based around a small scale visitor centre on a 12 acre site with a focus on the National Forest project and creating a low key day out experience, with an amphitheatre and external play zone.

Following the development of a business plan which was used to raise over £16 million the National Forest Visitor Centre was transformed into the CONKERS Discovery Centre, an attraction developed over a 120 acre site with the building of the Discovery Centre, interactive zones, indoor play, new cafes, a retail space and a train linking the new Discovery to the Waterside Centres.

CONKERS is now one of the Midland’s leading millennium visitor attractions, which to this day does not require revenue support.

Since opening as CONKERS in 2001 we have continued to develop the visitor experience introducing a simulated tree top walk, a programme of outdoor pursuits and in 2015 and a new ropes course which has broadened the appeal to include teenagers and adults alike.

CONKERS now welcomes over 210,000 customers a year including over 30,000 education visits. It also operates significant Corporate and Private party functions, a year round programme of major special events and enjoys strong retail and catering income.

Click here to find out more about CONKERS.

Don’t forget if you are looking for a company to manage a visitor attraction please don’t hesitate to contact Mike Stickland at