No to ‘theme park’ Warwick

Veronica Hyland, Phil Harris and Penny Wright
Veronica Hyland, Phil Harris and Penny Wright

Three Warwick residents are standing shoulder-to-shoulder in protest about a proposal to build 20 holiday lodges and five “tree houses” in the grounds of the town’s castle.

Penny Wright, Phil Harris and Veronica Hyland say the plans shortly to go before Warwick District Council will involve the axing of 11 trees and the pruning of at least another 18 to provide better views for the temporary visitors.

Veronica said: “We’re not talking about Legoland or Alton Towers. This is England’s premier medieval castle and it shouldn’t be turned into a theme park!”

Phil Harris is a member of the Warwick Society and one of the founding members of the voluntary tree wardens group which by next February will have completed the planting of 2,500 saplings and shrubs along the route from the Longbridge Island into Warwick.

He said: “If applications like this are allowed, what is the point of designating the castle’s Capability Brown-
designed landscape as Grade I listed - a place to be protected for future generations?

“We understand Merlin Entertainments have to make enough money to maintain the castle and could understand the request for glamping in tents within the site. But that is seasonal. This will be all year round.”

Veronica Hyland admits she and her husband Chris Edwards have a vested interest in preserving the castle grounds as their home backs on to the camping/glamping site opened last year.

She said: “An Englishman’s or woman’s home is their castle and when we moved here in 1996 we took on board the fact that there was a real medieval castle at the other side of our rear wall.

“We’ve accepted the noise of crowds and entertainers’ yelling and the castle managers were helpful in moving the camp site’s play area further away. But now it is becoming more like a theme park.”

A castle spokeswoman said that the proposed Foxes Study site for the lodge scheme is not on part of the grounds designed by Capability Brown, which why it was chosen.

She said: “It is not visible from any other part of the heritage site, making it an ideal location. We are very aware of the woodland setting, indeed it is integral to the plan. We have therefore been extremely careful to ensure we impact the minimum number of trees including involving a team of third-party experts who have helped us to identify a plan in which the handful of trees which will be removed are those identified as the weakest/least sustainable, or of least environmental importance.

“Equally, any pruning will be handled with great care to minimise the impact both to the individual trees and to the setting as a whole. Finally, and very importantly, the proposed scheme also involves significant additional planting of new trees to enhance the woodland.”