Castle is not a theme park, say residents

Geoff Spooner is the new manager of Warwick Castle.Nov10 ENGNNL00120130411155006
Geoff Spooner is the new manager of Warwick Castle.Nov10 ENGNNL00120130411155006

The Warwick Society has expressed its disapproval of Warwick Castle’s revised plans to build lodges and tents in its grounds.

The society’s president, James Mackay, believed Warwick District Council’s planning committee made the “wise and right decision” to reject the original plans filed in November to build holiday accommodation on the Foxes Study site and thinks they should do the same again. He said: “Foxes Study is an important part of the Grade I-listed area of the grounds.

It really is just another version of a theme park to them - they don’t seem to accept that Warwick Castle is different to their other attractions and needs a different approach

James Mackay

“If it’s developed on, the historic grounds will be damaged, and we don’t accept their argument that it won’t be.”

As revealed in the Courier last week, the new plans include the construction of 16 wooden lodges, fewer than were proposed last year.

Additionally, plans for glamorous camping - or ‘glamping’ - tents now only extend to 2017 instead of being permanent, and plans to build five treehouses have been scrapped.

According to the annual report of Merlin Entertainment, the castle’s parent company, part of their strategy involves “developing our theme parks into short break destinations”, which concerns Mr Mackay.

He added: “They want people to spend as much money as possible within the castle.

“It really is just another version of a theme park to them - they don’t seem to accept that Warwick Castle is different to their other attractions and needs a different approach.

“It’s the only one that is truly historic.”

In an interview with the Courier last week, castle manager Geoff Spooner made it clear that change is necessary if the castle is to survive as a major tourist attraction.

He said: “The castle has always evolved to stay current, that’s why it’s still here. It needs to be commercially viable or it will go.”

Mr Spooner insists Merlin takes its responsibilities to the castle very seriously and it wants to support the community as much as possible.