One of Teesside’s best loved animal attractions is hoping to expand – but funds will have to be found in order for the project to be completed.

The Kirkleatham Owl Centre, in Kirkleatham Lane, Kirkleatham, Redcar, was recently granted planning permission to create a new entrance building for visitors.

The aim is to improve the facilities for visitors, including upgrading the current disabled access available, and to provide space for maintenance purposes and animal feed stores.

Craig Wesson, a manager at the owl centre, said it had also suffered from flooding in the past and the proposed scheme would provide much needed drainage.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The current entrance to the Kirkleatham Owl Centre (and inset) manager Craig Wesson previously pictured with a sea eagle being looked after by volunteers

While quotes were being sought for the improvements, it was still to be fully identified how they would be paid for.

He said: “Like any such development securing funding is key to it going ahead and we are currently looking at all options.

“We’re not a registered charity, we are independently volunteer-run and any funds we currently get is based on what comes through the door with visitor admissions.”

Mr Wesson said there was a perception, wrongly, that the owl centre was run by Redcar and Cleveland Council, which operates the museum and grounds at Kirkleatham, when they were separate entities.

Earlier this year the owl centre wrote to the council to protest over planned car parking charges due to be introduced at the museum and grounds – which were later dropped – which it said would have a “monumentally adverse effect” on its ability to operate.

A spokesman for the centre, which has four full-time and two part-time staff, said it had been in Kirkleatham for almost 35 years and provided an “enjoyable and informative day out” for visitors wanting to get up close to birds of prey and other animals such as meerkats, porcupines and rare-breed hens.

Numerous wildlife conservation projects were also supported from the facility, including a project to protect kestrels in the Cleveland area.

The spokesman said the centre also organised outreach education visits across the North East and “countless school visits” to the centre itself.

A council decision notice approving the plans said further details, including the materials used, would have to be submitted to the local authority in order to safeguard the special character of the Kirkleatham conservation area.

To get in touch with the centre e-mail or call 01642 480512.