Nottingham Castle revamp 'will boost city economy by £77m'
PLANS to revamp Nottingham Castle will boost Nottingham's economy by £77 million and help create more than 1,300 jobs, it has been claimed.
The details are included in a bid for £15 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund which is needed for a £26 million redevelopment of the castle museum and art gallery.
City councillors are close to submitting the application.
Ted Cantle, chairman of the Castle Working Group, which drew up the plans, said: "It's a very significant first step.
"This is a very big scheme that will transform the castle and create an opportunity to really explore the history of the castle, which I think people have wanted to do for some time.
"It's a huge opportunity to put the castle, Robin Hood and the city's history of rebellion on the map, and for Nottingham to become a destination city."
Mr Cantle said the working group expected a decision from Heritage Lottery Fund in April next year.
In August, the council revealed plans for the castle, including a gallery devoted to Robin Hood and the history of Nottingham, bringing the caves underneath the castle back into use, and a new visitor centre and cafe.
The plan went out to public consultation in September, with residents backing the idea for more access to the caves, improved museum exhibits and extra ways to learn about Robin Hood.
Feedback also revealed 94 per cent of visitors felt they would be more likely to revisit the castle if it was improved.
Councillor Dave Trimble, council portfolio holder for leisure, culture and tourism, said: "Of course, there's still a long way to go before we can turn these plans into reality but this is a really important step along the way.
"The proposals in this bid would enable us to capture the role our iconic castle has played in rebellion and freedom over the past 1,000 years and to bring to life the story of Robin Hood in a way that will create an exciting and fun experience for all the family."
The overall cost of the redevelopment has been estimated at £26 million. The £15 million of Heritage Lottery money would be supplemented by £11 million from the public and private sector.
The detailed bid shows plans to re-establish the mediaeval moat and bridge at the gatehouse entrance and a welcome centre with cafe and shop.
A two-storey extension to the castle for a new Robin Hood attraction is also planned.
The Museum of Nottingham Life at Brewhouse Yard would be revamped, with a new lift linking it to the castle.
The funding bid will be put before the council's executive board for approval on Tuesday, November 20.
Mr Trimble added: "I was excited to see that the caves came out particularly strongly in the public consultation and this gives us an opportunity to showcase this unique part of the city's heritage.
"The ambition to create a world-class visitor attraction at the castle would also bring the additional benefits of regenerating the surrounding area, bringing major investment into our city and creating and sustaining hundreds of jobs."
Bob White, chairman of the World Wide Robin Hood Society, sat on the castle working group. He said: "The main thing is to get the momentum going and submit the Heritage Lottery Fund application.
"What is planned is to try to create something which is going to be a world-class attraction that will live up to the expectations of visitors. This is something which has been a major criticism over the years from people looking to get some sort of experience of the Robin Hood legend at the castle."
It is hoped a multi-million pound revamp of the castle will increase visitor numbers from around 196,000 a year to more than 315,000 by 2025.
It has also been forecast that the project could bring an extra £77 million into the city economy, create nearly 1,500 short-term jobs, and more than 1,300 full-time jobs, both at the castle and across the city during a ten-year period.
If everything goes to plan, work could begin in the next couple of years, with the attraction set to open by 2019.
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