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The Sill Discovery Centre

We assisted Northumberland National Park in creating The Sill: Landscape Discovery Centre.
The Sill building exterior at night, illuminated warmly from the inside


Hexham, United Kingdom


Northumberland National Park Authority​



The £14.8m project was granted planning permission in October 2014 and opened in July 2017. The Sill project is the UK’s first dedicated Landscape Discovery Centre. It is a hub for the local community and economy, hosting some 30,000 learning, participation and research activities throughout the year. This makes the centre a leading heritage education facility for landscape, conservation, countryside management, and leisure and tourism skills.

Given the sensitive environment in which the project sits – a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring the Hadrian’s Wall corridor – a careful approach was needed to develop the right planning strategy, extensive public engagement and high levels of detail within the planning and EIA submission. Given its location within a Dark Sky Park, the lighting design work focused on meeting the requirements of the International Dark Sky Association. Several of these criteria required a reduction in obtrusive light, i.e., sky glow and a reduction in the visibility of the building at night.

Ian Cansfield, Director of Planning, commented, "This has been a fantastic project to be part of and we have relished the challenge of securing consent for this contemporary facility in a sensitive environment. Not only is this close to Hadrian’s Wall (part of the ‘Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site’), part of the site is also designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and there are strict National Park planning rules to comply with."

Key fact

The UK’s first dedicated Landscape Discovery Centre


Key fact

The Sill received a £7.8m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)


Ian Cansfield in a meeting room with glass window background wearing a blue suit and shirt

Ian Cansfield

Director, Planning and EIA

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Cundall’s Planning and EIA team worked hard to get planning permission for the centre, along with the works carried out by our team of lighting specialists – a huge undertaking in itself.