The Duchy of Lancaster is opening Lancaster Castle to the public later this month, inviting people to view plans for its future use.
Proposals drawn up in conjunction with heritage experts Malcolm Reading Consultants will be on display in the former prison visitor’s centre at the end of October.
Making the most of Lancaster Castle’s potential as a powerful new tourist attraction, and providing a boost to the local economy, the plan is to transform the castle complex into a lively mixed-use urban quarter while maintaining its important historic and judicial functions.
The court service will remain, while new uses will include administrative facilities for the Duchy of Lancaster, a visitor attraction, a boutique hotel and arts and performance spaces.
Visitors to the public exhibition will be able to view the proposals, and will be encouraged give their feedback. Representatives from The Duchy of Lancaster, which owns Lancaster Castle, and Malcolm Reading Consultants will be on hand to answer questions and discuss the proposals in depth.
Running over four days, the public consultation will offer two late evenings to cater for those who cannot attend during the day:
Tuesday, October 30th from 10am-5pm
Wednesday, October 31st from 10am-7pm
Thursday, November 1st from 10am-7pm
Friday, November 2nd from 10am-5pm
Visitors to the exhibition will enter through the John O’Gaunt Gate. The information will also be available and feedback encouraged through a dedicated consultation website which will be launched on October 30th www.lancastercastle.org, alongside a special freephone enquiry line (0800 345 7220) for anyone unable to go online.
Paul Clarke, CEO and Clerk of the Duchy Council, hopes people will take the time to visit the exhibition and share their thoughts.
He said: “The Duchy has to ensure the castle has a sustainable future and we will balance preservation of the building with activities which encourage its wider use.
“To that end, we have worked closely with our heritage consultants and various stakeholders to draw up a series of proposals which will both protect and promote the castle in the future.
“This will be the first opportunity for the people of Lancaster to view the plans and let us know what they think. One of our main aims is for the castle to be integrated into the life of the city and enable more people to use and enjoy it, and so the views and opinions of the local community will be absolutely vital in taking the vision forward.”
The proposals on display are the result of an initial report into potential future uses for the castle, but this public consultation is the first part of a long process and it could be several years before any or all of the proposals come to fruition. Following the consultation, and completion of the Duchy’s own financial viability studies, a planning application will be drawn up and submitted by early 2014 with work hopefully starting by the end of 2014 and the new development open by spring 2017.
Malcolm Reading, Chairman of MRC said all feedback would be reviewed and analysed as part of the planning application process. He added: “This building is such an incredible asset to the city of Lancaster and offers such potential for its future uses.
“We’re looking forward to discussing these exciting proposals with the people of Lancaster and taking the plans onto the next stage.”