WORK to create a £3 million visitor centre aimed at attracting up to 100,000 people a year to the grounds of a stately home near Bromsgrove is set to begin within days.

And the centre, which could turn Hagley Park into a major UK tourist attraction, should be completed and ready to open in 2017.

More than £2 million has already been spent restoring the grounds and 18th century buildings surrounding Hagley Hall - ancestral home of the Viscounts Cobham - to their former glory.

Old pathways have been brought back into use and new ones created, with a view to making the 290 acre park accessible for disabled people.

Around 300 trees have been planted and 2,000 cubic metres of silt has been removed from pools to recreate an idyllic vista from the newly restored Palladian bridge to the Rotunda building in the grounds.

The 12th Viscount Cobham, Chris Lyttelton, hopes the revenue the visitor centre brings in will boost the local economy and save his family's estate for future generations.

"I am trying to get it to be sustainable, so that when I'm pushing up the daisies, whoever inherits from me will have something that is not a burden on them," said Lord Cobham, aged 67, who took over at Hagley Hall following the death of his older brother, John, in 2006.

Contractors will move on to the site to begin construction of the visitor centre - tucked into a plantation of trees - on September 8.

It will include a restaurant, gift shop, study rooms and a three-bedroom ranger's house, as well as a children's play area and parking for up to 180 vehicles, including coaches.

The entry fees will help pay for the upkeep of the hall and grounds - where the running costs are around £300,000 a year.

Lord Cobham, whose previous career was as a city financial consultant, was faced with raising around £6 million to pay off debts and a maintenance deficit on the property after his brother's death.

He has raised around £10 million by selling off land on the corner of the A491 and Worcester Road in Hagley for the controversial Cala Homes housing development.

And grants from English Heritage and Natural England have also helped to pay for the restoration work.