Plans for Lancaster Castle advance

New proposals for the redevelopment of Lancaster Castle, including a 75-room luxury hotel, artists’ studios and international-standard conferences and festivals have moved one step closer to completion.

The announcement follows a six-month study by heritage experts Malcolm Reading Consultants, with potential plans overseen by Duchy of Lancaster Council.

The boutique hotel would offer high quality, four-star accommodation comprising up to 75 rooms with the scope to include a signature restaurant, conference and events space and luxury facilities such as spa and gym.

In addition, there is also potential for additional commercial and cultural uses, such as areas for artists’ studios and workshops, as well as public art displays, outdoors performances and festivals. The Duchy has also had initial discussions with Lancaster University regarding using part of the space for some of its departments or conferences.

The proposals also aim to draw tourism to the city, including a museum based around the judicial and penal history in Britain.

Paul Clarke, chief executive at the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “We have reached an exciting phase in the future of Lancaster Castle and are really looking forward to sharing our ideas with the local community.

“We still have a long way to go in terms of finalising the plans to ensure that the vision is financially viable and deliverable, but this initial proposal is a major step forward. We are confident that our ideas would enable Lancaster Castle to become a powerful new tourist attraction that would significantly boost the local economy, create jobs and transform the use of the city centre for residents and visitors.”

Malcolm Reading, chairman of MRC said: “We’ve been encouraged by the appetite locally to engage with this fascinating project. It will be satisfying to see this emblematic, confident architecture put to better purpose and speak to new audiences.”

In addition to the public consultation, the Duchy will undertake detailed financial modelling and viability studies to help finalise its initial plans by the end of this year. If viable, it is hoped that planning permission would be achieved by early 2014 and that work would start by the end of the same year with the new development being open by spring 2017.