£130,000 in funding approved for new Portsmouth butterfly house

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Plans for a new tropical butterfly house at the Cumberland House natural history museum by Canoe Lake have been given a £130,000 boost.

Allocation of the funding to build a modern replacement for the current enclosure was approved today by Councillor Linda Symes, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, and Sport.

The decision is a major step forward for a scheme to demolish the present butterfly house, which dates back to the 1980s, and to restore original features at the rear of the historic museum, before building an improved environment for butterflies and visitors.

The scheme includes plans to make the museum garden into a haven for British butterflies, using planting to attract them.

Councillor Symes said: “Cumberland House’s butterfly house has been a popular attraction for generations of Portsmouth families. There are not many of these facilities around the country, and it’s a key attraction for residents and visitors.

“We now have the opportunity to create a new butterfly house which meets the standards you would expect of a modern visitor attraction, with more value as an educational facility.

“The proposals have been backed enthusiastically by users of the museum and we’re also grateful for the support of the Canoe Lake Park Support Group and the Friends of Cumberland House.

“We have also been able to gain sponsorship from Fyffes, the fruit importer, for a specialised butterfly-hatching facility.”

Expert reports have concluded that the present butterfly house is beyond economic repair, and not suitable for housing butterflies. Plans to demolish and replace it were backed 100% by museum visitors during consultation over the summer.

The proposed new facility will allow tropical butterflies to be kept in safer and more natural conditions.

It is expected to cost around £150,000 in total. The rest of the amount is expected to come from sponsorship and community fundraising. Shoppers at Tesco can vote to support the museum garden work using the store’s Bags of Help token scheme.

Demolition of the current butterfly house, and restoration of original features at the rear of the museum, have received planning and listed building permission. Demolition would make the original rear façade of the building visible to visitors to the museum garden and the Canoe Lake area.

Demolition is expected to begin in the new year, and be completed at the end of March. This would coincide with routine maintenance work at Cumberland House, minimising disruption and inconvenience to visitors.

Planning and listed building applications for the new butterfly house are expected to be considered in the new year. If permission is granted, the goal would be to open the new butterfly house in the summer.

Cumberland House showcases a selection of the city’s 114,000 natural science specimens in addition to the butterfly house and a new bee hive.