High hopes that Nottingham Castle plans will get government backing
HOPES are high that the government will get behind plans for a new Robin Hood attraction in Nottingham after a meeting in London last night.
Nottingham North MP Graham Allen and Ted Cantle, who is leading the working group on the project, met Culture Secretary Maria Miller to ask for her backing.
The plans include a gallery devoted to Robin Hood and the history of the city at Nottingham Castle.
They also include bringing the caves under the castle back into use and a new visitor centre and cafe, at a total cost of £26 million.
After the meeting, Mr Cantle said: "It went very well. We were delighted with Ms Miller's response.
"She seemed very interested. After all this would not be a huge boost to tourism in the city and county, but nationally as well. And her department has responsibility for this."
Mr Cantle said they were now awaiting an official response in writing from the government.
He added: "We must now wait. We don't know how long, but hopefully it will be fairly speedy.
"But we feel very positive. We gave a presentation and hopefully we will be able to get what we are looking for."
A bid for £15 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund has already been submitted.
Those behind the plans hope government backing will put some more weight behind their proposals and help draw in extra funds.
If it is successful, work could begin in the next couple of years, with the attraction set to open by 2019.
It would include a two-storey extension of the castle for the new Robin Hood attraction, while The Museum of Nottingham Life at Brewhouse Yard would be revamped, with a new lift linking it to the castle.
It is estimated it could bring an extra £77 million into Nottingham's economy, while creating more than 1,300 extra jobs.
Mr Allen is hopeful the plans may come to fruition.
He said: "There has been talk before about a Robin Hood attraction but nothing has ever come of it.
"But I believe this time we are serious about the proposals, that is why I am giving my full support to it.
"Cities like Derby and Leicester would love to have a legend like Robin Hood that they can exploit, so we really must do this for Nottingham and for the country as well. The benefits will be seen across the country."
He added: "We hope to get the backing of the government and the international links that can bring. We want them to help us. We want to see an attraction in Nottingham which is worthwhile. Why shouldn't we have an Angel of the North type figure but of Robin Hood?"
The Castle Working Group, which is chaired by Mr Cantle, hopes to have a decision on the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund by April.
The plans gained huge backing in a consultation last year.
Feedback revealed that 94 per cent of visitors felt they would be more likely to revisit the castle if it was improved.
Mr Allen added: "The designs are great. We need everyone to now get behind it so the plans become reality."