Elvaston Castle has been inaccessible to the public for many years and the escalating costs of maintenance have prompted the need for urgent action and the development of a plan to safeguard the Castle's future.
In 2000, the Heritage Lottery Fund turned down an application from the County Council for funding towards the cost of repairs to the historic park and gardens because a financially viable and sustainable use for the Castle and its historic buildings had not been proposed. This was the catalyst for the Council's public consultation to inform the development of proposals for the re-use of the Castle, gardens and parkland.
In 2004, following a two-year tendering process, Highgate Sanctuary's hotel proposals were judged to be the very best response to the sensitive conservation needs of the Estate, whilst also finding a sustainable solution for its future.
Within a year Highgate Sanctuary had launched a five-month public consultation, which explained their proposals to minimise the effect on the historic architecture and landscape and to improve public access to the Estate. Feedback from the public on issues such as requests for new facilities, preferred access routes and people's favourite things about visiting the Elvaston Estate helped shaped our plans for the future.
The subsequent delay in submitting a formal planning application has been as a result of following a revised options analysis process laid down by English Heritage (EH), during which time their guidance on the plans and the best way to conserve the Estate has changed. That process has now concluded to give a clearer steer as to what development and conservation work would be acceptable on the Estate. Highgate Sanctuary has responded throughout this long process to all the public and English Heritage's concerns and now has a revised proposal, based around the original hotel concept, but proposing different uses outside the Castle to generate enough income from the Estate to cover the huge repair costs. Highgate Sanctuary has been given a strong indication from EH that their current plans meet the aims of the new options discussed by the conservation consultants, details of which will be made available during a new tendering process.
Because of the time-lapse from the Council's original decision to appoint Highgate Sanctuary as its preferred partner, the Council has decided to ask Highgate to re-tender their plans to demonstrate how their revised proposals meet the defined conservation constraints and offer best value for the Derbyshire taxpayer, as compared to any other potential bidders. It is hoped the tender process will be completed by the end of the summer.
This web site outlines an anticipated timetable for the continuation of the process. Details will be updated regularly. There is also a section on frequently asked questions that address some of the understandable rumours that have arisen about the proposals as the planning process has been drawn out. The project to repair and restore the Gardens will be run by the County Council via a specially created Gardens Preservation Trust, or an organisation experienced in Gardens and Park management.
to tender revised proposals
Highgate Sanctuary is looking forward to submitting re-worked proposals for the restoration and development of Elvaston Castle following extensive revisions at the request of English Heritage and the County Council.
The plans will include a hotel with leisure and spa facilities, creating 60 new jobs.