Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Masterplan for Newark Castle revealed to boost tourist economy

A masterplan for a monumental makeover of Newark Castle, to help bolster Newark and Sherwood district’s tourist economy, is to be discussed by councillors.

Restoration of the ancient gatehouse, a new moat bridge entrance with learning centre underneath and new rooms in the north west tower are the centrepiece of revised proposals to help provide a major boost to Newark and Sherwood’s visitor appeal.

The castle has been pinpointed as the gateway to the town’s other landmark heritage attractions, such as the Town Hall and Market Square and National Civil War Centre (NCWC).

The masterplan supports the Newark Destination Management Plan (DMP), approved earlier this year, which has targeted a significant increase in tourist numbers with major new benefits to the district’s economy.

The DMP plans to grow the economic impact of visitors within Newark by £5-million per annum over five years and the castle plans alone would bring in an expected £1.3m per annum of that. A priority is to convert more day-trippers into overnight visitors who spend more locally, meaning more trade for businesses. Joint ticketing offers for visitors and local people, to include the different town attractions, are also being explored.

Councillor Keith Girling, chairman of the council’s economic development committee, said: “These plans for the castle are bold and impressive and if brought to reality, will have the potential to bring a massive boost to the economy and would be the crowning glory to tourism in Newark and Sherwood.

“We already know the town is a great place to visit, whether for leisure or business, but this will put it on another level in terms of attracting tourists and boosting trade for our shops, restaurants and overnight accommodation and along with that, spin-offs for other services.

“The castle is pivotal in that not only is it the gateway to the other major features of  the town – the Town Hall, Market Square and National Civil War Centre,  it is a stand-out attraction in drawing  more tourism to the district of Newark and Sherwood.”

If approved by councillors, developed designs of the master plan will now be drawn up which include:

  • New moat bridge: This would be the ‘showcase’ castle entrance, linking the gatehouse with Beast Market Hill and capturing visitor flow from the nearby rail and road links. Historically authentic, it would serve to draw in visitors and create passing interest. There would also be a new entrance gate, ramped pathway and new landscaping.
  • Restoration of the gatehouse: Described by Historic England as the ‘most complete example of a Romanesque gatehouse in England’ and scene of the death of King John 800 years ago, the structure has degraded over the centuries but would have a new roof, floors and windows as set out in the original plans to restore the structure. The first floor timber floor would be reinstated and there would be a structure for a second floor.   There would be a balcony gallery and an extended viewing area on top of the gatehouse.
  • Learning and event space: Cut into the bank beneath the new moat bridge this underground facility would host activities and attractions in conjunction with the NCWC.
  • New pay pavilion:  Located between the north west tower and the gatehouse, this would house the ticket office and shop and provide the access point to the gatehouse interior and improve access to the dungeons.
  • New rooms in the north west tower: The ground floor room, which would not be connected to the upper floors in line with its original structural design, would tell the story of the history of the castle in precis and explain what visitors can experience within the attraction. Meanwhile, an additional room would be created in the north west tower by putting in new floors in line with how the castle was originally constructed.
  • New exhibitions and interpretation displays: To be included within the two rooms and dungeon in the south west tower and under croft.

Archaeologists have been first tasked to investigate the ground conditions and archaeology around the proposed site for the moat bridge before detailed designs are drawn up.

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