Nottingham Castle could re-open by June
Nottingham City Council has set out plans which it says will see Nottingham Castle fully re-open in June, if councillors give them the go-ahead next week.
Under the proposals, the council will take the operation of the castle site back into its Museums and Galleries service, which will run it alongside other heritage sites such as Newstead Abbey and Wollaton Hall.
If approved, it will mean that with some preview events planned from as early as May, local people as well as visitors will once again be able to enjoy the city’s key historical site and that the castle can resume making its contribution to the wider local economy estimated to be valued at £12m to £14m.
A report to be considered by the council’s Executive Board on Tuesday 21 March outlines other options, including mothballing the site and initially only reopening the grounds. But the option to fully reopen is being recommended for approval, with up to £2.1m earmarked in the council’s medium-term financial plan for its operation over the next three financial years.
Last month, Nottingham City Council was warned that it must decide the future of the city’s shuttered Castle tourist attraction by the end of June or face Government intervention.
The condition, part of a long list of instructions the council must undertake to ensure the Government doesn’t step in to take over, says the authority must “determine the future of Nottingham Castle in line with the commercial strategy and without exposing the Council to inappropriate risk.”
Some 47 people lost their jobs when liquidators from Interpath Advisory were appointed to wind the Nottingham Castle Trust up in November.
If the recommendation is approved next week, it will trigger an activation period of around three months to recruit and train staff and set up any systems and processes needed for fully reopening the castle. The Council wants start-up activities to begin from May in the grounds to give people the opportunity to rediscover the site ahead of full reopening. Further details about the proposed programme of activities and pricing structure would follow if a decision is taken to reopen.
Alongside the reopening, the Council says it will undertake a “lessons learned” exercise as part of an assessment into how to best operate the castle. This, it says, will “help inform future decisions around what would provide the council with the delivery model for the site that allows for the best experience for all visitors”.
The City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture & Planning, councillor Pavlos Kotsonis, said: “We know there is a lot of love for Nottingham Castle and we were all devastated when it closed last year.
“We committed to looking at ways to reopen the castle as soon as possible after Nottingham Castle Trust went into liquidation and handed the site back to us. This report recommends a way to do that by using the expertise of the council’s well-established Museums and Galleries service, which has previously run the site and has the skills, specialist knowledge and cultural partnership connections to quickly mobilise and successfully animate the site with a programme of activities.
“It is important to get this right and officers have worked tirelessly to achieve that, I am proud of the work done.”