North West

Redeveloping Lancaster Castle

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Located in the North West county of Lancashire, Lancaster Castle is a historic castle with a very unique history.

The site is made up of a series of buildings, each dating back to different time periods, and all designed with different uses in mind.

From the Well Tower – also known as the Witches’ Tower – to the John O’ Gaunt Gatehouse and Adrian’s Tower, Lancaster Castle is very much a part of the fabric of Lancaster. Plans are now underway to transform the historic site into a mixed-use urban quarter which comprises a museum, a boutique hotel, corporate and education facilities, events and performance areas, as well as public spaces.

The scheme is being put into place in order to provide a sustainable and self-financing collection of facilities, which can preserve the unique history of the site whilst boosting the local economy. Work is currently scheduled to begin on the redevelopment of Lancaster Castle in 2014, with a completion date pencilled in for 2017.

Briscoe is the main contractor on the Lancaster Castle Redevelopment project, whilst Malcolm Reading Consultants is providing consultancy services.

Commenting on the importance of the grand scheme, CEO and Clerk of the Duchy Council, Paul Clarke, said:

“The Duchy has to ensure the castle has a sustainable future and we will balance preservation of the building with activities which encourage its wider use. To that end, we have worked closely with our heritage consultants and various stakeholders to draw up a series of proposals which will both protect and promote the castle in the future.

“One of our main aims is for the castle to be integrated into the life of the city and enable more people to use and enjoy it.”

Chairman of MRC, Malcolm Reading, added:

“This building is such an incredible asset to the city of Lancaster and offers such potential for its future uses.”

The new Museum of Judicial and Penal History being created at Lancaster Castle is being seen as an unconventional museum, which will use different media, individual stories and contemporary accounts to tell the castle’s story. The museum’s tour will take a look at the various elements of the castle, including the Shire Courts which will be retained in order to maintain an aspect of continuity from the old into the new.

The court rooms at the museum will benefit from sound proofing and the introduction of modern technology, whilst parts of the Keep and the Gatehouse will be reworked into castle spaces. Meanwhile a section of the castle’s former prison is to be transformed into a four or five-star boutique hotel.

The high quality hotel will include 62 stunning rooms, a signature restaurant, courtyard café, conferencing facilities, and meeting and banquet spaces. The main entrance to the hotel will be created through the colonnade of the Clock Tower Building with the reception situated in the Chapel Yard.

With its beautiful setting, the new hotel is being designed to provide the perfect venue for weddings and events and will include two special Royal Suites in the castle’s Keep. The hotel may also include a small gym and spa.

In addition to the museum and hotel, a number of event spaces are to be created within Lancaster Castle, catering for plays, concerts, seasonal events and an always popular festive market. The castle’s courtyard will also host the hotel’s café with accompanying lawn.

The redeveloped Lancaster Castle will be made available for community groups, local businesses and organisations. Lancaster University is currently considering the site to house its law department.

The redevelopment of Lancaster Castle is being viewed as a truly significant project for the Lancashire town. Discussing the scope of the proposed works, Lancaster City Council Tourist Member, Councillor Ron Sands, said:

“It’s breathtaking; the greatest thing to ever happen to the Lancaster district. It will change the whole landscape of this area, including Morecambe. Where else in England can you stay by the seaside and then visit this kind of experience?”

Chair of Bay Tourism, Suzi Bunting, added:

“I’m absolutely delighted. I personally feel a hotel would make it unique. There is a need for extra bed spaces in Lancaster City Centre. The international interest in the museum would bring overnight stays from all over the world.”

To complete the project, transport routes are also being improved, which will further integrate the castle into its surroundings. A new pedestrian route through the city will be created, whilst existing pedestrian crossing facilities will be improved.

The adjacent multi-storey car park will continue to provide parking provisions for Lancaster Castle and the nearby train station and bus station will continue to service the site. Whilst work is taking place on the redevelopment of Lancaster Castle certain areas of the castle will be concealed from public view.

For more information on the redevelopment of Lancaster Castle please visit: www.lancastercastle.org.

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