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Herefordshire town takes a step towards opening a dedicated walking centre
PLANS to open a dedicated walking centre in Kington are proving popular.
Residents, traders and councillors are supporting the emerging idea, while those behind it say a dedicated centre in the town would draw in more tourists and boost local trade.
The mayor of Kington, Councillor Bob Widdowson, told the Hereford Times the ideal location for the walking centre would be the recently sold Old Wesleyan Chapel.
The grade II-listed chapel in Mill Street was sold at auction through county estate agents Sunderlands and Thompsons at the end of last month. It is not yet known who bought the building.
In the past decade, Herefordshire Council has rejected plans to convert the site into flats.
“We’ve been trying to find a use for the chapel for 15 years,” said Bob.
“People are very enthusiastic about the idea of turning it into a walking centre.
One of the objectives of having a walking centre is for it to be part of Kington’s regeneration and in order to do that it really needs to be in the town centre.”
Even at this early stage, it is hoped a walking centre would be more than a meeting place for walkers but also be an exhibition space with facilities for small performances and seminars.
A café and a new home for the town’s tourist information centre have also been mooted as ideas to go alongside the venture.
Earlier this year, Kington held its first walking festival and organisers were impressed when hundreds of people signed up to go on 29 guided walks over four days.
Barbara Barrett, chairman of Kington Walking Festival, said: “Kington is ideally located for a walking centre. In addition a web of footpaths accessible on foot from the town centre await discovery.
“Kington gained Walkers are Welcome status last year and information on local walks is a popular request at the Kington tourist information centre.”
Bernard Ray, chairman of Kington Chamber of Trade, added that the walking festival brought “significant benefits to the town”, in particular to bed and breakfast, self catering, pubs, and eating establishments.
“The walking festival is now an important event in our calendar, complementing others,” said Bernard.
“They are all designed to bring people not only to Kington, but Herefordshire in general."