The National Trust has announced plans to invest £1.54 million in the Gibside Estate in Gateshead.
The Trust says the investment at Gibside, an 18th century landscape garden at Rowlands Gill, five miles from Metrocentre, is in response to visitor numbers increasing from 60,000 to 166,000 in the past 10 years.
The investment will be used to build new car parking and welcome facilities, and will help start the restoration of the historic Walled Garden by stopping its use as an overflow car park.
This will relieve the pressure on tree roots that have been harmed by increased traffic, and allow the space to be used for community events such as farmers markets.
Project Manager for the National Trust Phil Bolam said: "Whilst the work to improve our facilities is being carried out our whole estate, including café, shop and regular events such as farmers markets will be open as usual and the car park will remain open.
"We will phase the construction work to cause minimal disruption to visitors and the local community."
As well as the human visitors who frequent Gibside, the National Trust is also ensuring the works cater for the estate’s wildlife.
A new otter holt and newt refuge will be created nearby to ensure the car park does not damage local habitats.
Funding for the project will come entirely from the National Trust income gained through membership and visitor entrance fees and charity donations.
Cllr Mick Henry, Leader of Gateshead Council, said: "The Trust’s investment in Gibside is a clear endorsement of its importance as a local tourist destination and is wholeheartedly supported by the Council.
"Increasing the number of visitors to Gateshead’s beautiful countryside is most welcome and will bring benefits for the local community and beyond."
The announcement comes just weeks after the Trust pledged an investment of £650,000 to improve the visitor experience at Housesteads Roman Fort in Northumberland.
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