A former mental hospital turned environment education hub could be in line for an upgrade.

Planning permission has been sought from Epping Forest District Council to make a number of improvements to Suntrap Forest Education Centre in Waltham Abbey.

If approved, the camping shelter, storage garage and outdoor classroom at the Waltham Forest Council run centre would be demolished, with a Victorian building on site refurbished and extended.

A information building would be built along with a replacement outdoor classroom, animal shelter and camping pavilion.

The area would be relandscaped and the car park reworked.

An application submitted to the council reads: "This report explores the possibility of developing the existing Suntrap Forest Education Centre to provide a high quality experience for children optimising the usage of facilities, minimising the impact of species and habitats, whilst educating and engaging students in a prominent location.

"The objective is to also diversify the business portfolio, attract a wider audience, which will offer new opportunities and a robust growth.

"The would facilitate an increased visibility in the local borough and wider areas as well as setting the trend of new technologies."

The Suntrap has a varied history dating back to 1894, when the Thomas Cutler designed building was constructed on the site of the former Fairmead House “lunatic asylum” once lived in by poet John Clare.

It became a convalescent home for children and invited in patients from east London who were suffering from tuberculosis.

At some point during the Second World War the hospital’s patients changed from children to expectant mothers as Suntrap became an annex of Plaistow Maternity Hospital.

In 1967, the London Borough of Waltham Forest bought Suntrap for £500 to create a centre to provide environmental education for children.

Two years after Sir David Attenborough helped the centre celebrate its fiftieth birthday, a £4.5m redevelopment programme is scheduled to start in July and finish sometime in 2020.