AN HISTORIC tourist attraction is about to get a multi-million pound makeover.

Work will start next month on a £2.2m project to expand the visitor facilities at Mottisfont Abbey near Romsey as more and more people visit the site.

The project will see the current thatched fishing hut style reception replaced with a larger reception area, shop, restaurant and visitor toilets situated next to the car park.

The modern wooden buildings have been specially designed by Burd Haward Architects to be energy efficient and have minimum impact on the former Augustinian priory which attracts more than 200,000 visitors a year.

They will be raised above the ground on stilts to prevent flooding and use solar power, biomass heating and low energy lighting and they will be constructed so they are easily dismantled and recycled at the end of their life.

The National Trust, who own the property, announced this summer that another £300,000 will be spent to create a contemporary garden in the site of its Victorian kitchen garden.

Royal Horticultural Society Young Designer of the Year 2012, Tristen Knight will create the Frame Yard Walled Garden next to its world famous rose gardens.

Work on this project is thought to start in September 2016.

General manager Paul Cook said: “Over 200,000 people now visit us annually and our new visitor facilities will allow us to welcome them properly in a spacious reception area, give them a retail space to shop in and enjoy, and to double our catering capacity with a new café in the stable yard. We will at last have a visitor building to be proud of, and one that befits this beautiful house and gardens.

“The design of these buildings has been meticulously thought through to ensure that the end result is sustainable in terms of construction, use and re-use.

“The materials have been chosen for their energy efficiency, durability and low maintenance, and the high levels of insulation, natural ventilation and light will reduce the need for extra heating and lighting.”

As part of the makeover, the kitchen cafe will be closed for a refit in September. During this time there will be a temporary cafe in the stable yard, serving hot food and drinks.

Work on the visitor facilities is due to be completed next summer.