VOTE: Castle boosts confidence for city businesses

Owners of The Borough, Martin and Hannah Horner, who are planning to convert the building next door into accommodation.

Owners of The Borough, Martin and Hannah Horner, who are planning to convert the building next door into accommodation.

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“These are exciting times” says city pub owner Martin Horner, who is confident that plans for Lancaster Castle will create a greater demand for accommodation in the city.

Mr Horner’s pub, The Borough, in Dalton Square, has lodged plans with Lancaster City Council to create 12 en-suite bedrooms, partly by expanding into empty council-owned office space next door at 4 Dalton Square, part of CityLab.

The £400,000 scheme would create 10 new jobs and involve the use of empty space on the second floor of the existing pub building and in the ‘coach house’ at the back.

If planning permission is granted, The Borough will sign a 36 year lease and its new accommodation could open in time for Christmas.

Mr Horner, said: “We may have done this anyway but the plans for the castle have given us a little push and a lot more confidence.

“There are a lot of positive things happening in the city which will create a lot of jobs and mean there will be more money sloshing around the town. These are exciting times.”

The city’s only five-star hotel has also revealed expansion plans.

The Ashton currently has five luxury rooms, but is planning a £250,000 garden extension to create three self-catering units as well as expansion of its dining room and kitchen.

Owner, James Gray, said: “We are already busy all year round and feel we could now guarantee occupancy for new accommodation.

“Initially visitors will want to stay at the castle hotel but there will hopefully be plenty of business to go round for everyone. I think we will see more guest rooms coming on stream because there is a shortage at the moment, but we need to ensure there is a good variety of different types of accommodation.”

Coun Janice Hanson said plans for the castle had given new confidence to investors.

Martin Widden, from Lancaster Vision 2020, which is affiliated with Lancaster Civic Society, said that one of the main priorities was to make sure quality transport links were in place.

Current proposals, as a condition of the M6 link road approval, are for a shuttle bus service linking Caton Road to the bus station.

But Mr Widden said that there would be delays due to congestion, and the buses would travel no further than the bus station, resulting in a long walk uphill to the castle.

Lancaster Vision is proposing a system that would take visitors to the castle gates and also drop off and pick up people at other key sites around the city every 15 minutes.

He added: “We believe this would be the most practical, short-term investment, along with facilities for disabled visitors, extended cycleways and various physical improvements to pedestrian routes.”

The Duchy said it was still in the process investigating a variety of options for the castle’s longer term use.