Charity reveals its master plan

An artist's impression of how the new restaurant could look

An artist's impression of how the new restaurant could look - Credit: Archant

A master plan is in the makings to boost visitor numbers and improve life for animals and staff alike at the Donkey Sanctuary.

The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary - Credit: Archant

Bosses at the Sidmouth-based charity hope their bid for a new café-restaurant, enlarged car park and improved access across the site will win the backing of district chiefs.

They also want to make alterations to the existing barns to provide an enlarged visitors’ centre and shop, as well as upgrades to the staff welfare facilities and better donkey stabling.

The site attracted 280,000 visitors last year, which is projected to rise to 360,000 in 2018 – a tenth of whom are hoped to become active supporters.

The application says: “The proposed master plan is a key tool in enabling the charity to achieve its aspirations through the provision of improved facilities for staff, visitors and, most crucially from the charity’s point of view, the donkeys.”

Among the proposals is moving the veterinary hospital away from the visitors’ centre to remove the potential for visitors to inadvertently spread disease.

The restaurant capacity will more than triple from 60 inside seats to 200, with another 36 outside. The master plan promises a high quality piece of contemporary architecture which will boast sea views.

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It aims to establish a single access point from Slade House Farm and integrate a meet and greet facility, shop, visitors’ centre and café/restaurant.

There are also plans to improve the staff facilities with upgraded toilets, showers, changing rooms and break facilities.

The charity has proposed several improvements to the existing farm buildings to restore their original character and undo some of the earlier alterations it says are currently detracting from the character of the site.

The site employs around 220 people and is home to some 2,000 donkeys.

The charity’s five-year vision also includes establishing 15 fundraising shops around the country and increasing access to donkeys for schools nationwide.