Warwick Castle defends changes as it files new camping plans for grounds

Geoff Spooner is the new manager of Warwick Castle. MHLC-04-11-13 Castle manager Nov10 ENGNNL00120130411155006
Geoff Spooner is the new manager of Warwick Castle. MHLC-04-11-13 Castle manager Nov10 ENGNNL00120130411155006
  • Warwick Castle is due to submit revised plans for camping lodges and “glamping” tents
  • A similar bid was rejected by Warwick district councillors last year over fears for the historic site
  • Managers insist the new plans with keep the castle current and commercially viable
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Warwick Castle has revised its plans to build new lodges and “glamping” tents for holidaymakers in its grounds after they were rejected by councillors last year.

Originally, 20 wooden lodges, five treehouses and 41 permanent glamorous camping tents were planned to be built in the wooded Foxes Study area of the grounds.

The castle has always evolved to stay current, that’s why it’s still here. It needs to be commercially viable or it will go.

Geoff Spooner

But Warwick District Council’s planning committee unanimously opposed the bid - despite support from council officers and groups including English Heritage.

Speaking about the revised plans, Geoff Spooner, castle manager, said he realised they needed to make the ideas simpler. And insists that the revisions are in the best interests of the community.

“One of our main roles is to champion awareness of Warwick,” he said.

“We need to tempt people away from other places, especially London.

“Forty per cent of visitors to the castle visit the town, and 75 per cent of our employees are local people.”

The revised application has significantly reduced the number of planned buildings.

The number of wooden lodges has been reduced to 16, 14 of which are smaller and are designed to sleep five people instead of seven.

Both types of lodges are mainly assembled off-site. Once each part has been built, the parts would be transported to Warwick Castle and the lodges built very quickly.

Additionally, the new plans feature no treehouses, and large “glamping” -glamorous camping tents -will only be put up seasonally until 2017.

Mr Spooner described all of the planned buildings as sensitive to the landscape and as not requiring deep foundations to be laid meaning there is no threat to the historic grounds.

He also said that The Grade I listed Foxes Study site was chosen because it is screened by a thick canopy of trees, obscuring it from view in the vast majority of places in and around the grounds.

Should the plans be approved, the revenue will help cover to the £1million per year the castle spends on restoration, repairs and maintenance.

When the original plans were presented last year, objecting town and county councillor John Holland said: “This is not Legoland!”

However, Mr Spooner made it clear that change is necessary if the castle is to survive as a major tourist attraction and remain ahead of its competitors.

He added: “In the 1,100 year life of the castle, a lot of new things have come and gone.

“The castle has always evolved to stay current, that’s why it’s still here. It needs to be commercially viable or it will go.

“If people have a fundamental objection to anything being done in that area it’s difficult to move from that position. However, we take our responsibilities to the castle very seriously and we are here to support the community as much as possible.”