Warwick Castle will not be turned into a theme park, promises its new director as its new £5m camping village opens in the historic grounds.
Knight’s Village lodges for family overnight stays have now opened at grounds of the 11th century castle, which new director Nick Blofeld praised as a great step for the area.
The £5m investment by Merlin Entertainments - which owns the castle - includes 28 new wooden lodges in an all-year-round addition to 41 existing “glamping” tents.
Mr Blofeld, who took over the running of the popular site last month, said he is confident they have addressed all concerns from neighbours after initial concern and widespread objection to the plans.
“I think negative reaction has calmed down a lot,” he said. “We held a neighbours’ meeting here on Tuesday and a lot of people who raised objections reacted very well when they saw what we have done. There are concerns of the castle being turned into a theme park but that is simply not the case and never will be.
“You cannot see the lodges from other parts of the castle, this site is shrouded in trees and people seem very positive about it now it is here.
The castle being turned into a theme park. That is simply not the case and never will be.Nick Blofeld
“Authenticity is the key, we have preserved as much history here as possible and all the work is done sensitively.
“The grounds are steeped in such rich history we’ve been careful not to damage that.
“There has been a lot of extra investment in this than there might be at, say, Alton Towers and I am delighted with it, it’s a great addition.”
All lodges and walkways are on stilts so no damage or building work is put on the ground.
The development, which has so far created 50 new jobs, expects to attract over 20,000 overnight guests this year in what could be a huge economic boost to the town by bringing guests in for longer periods of time.
Talking about the possibilities, Mr Blofeld said: “Integration is critical. We provide bed and breakfast but of course a lot of people will go into Warwick to eat and explore and we encourage that.
“Warwick has a lovely town centre full of great restaurants and bars and shops. It has a lot to offer and we hope this encourages guests to enjoy both.”
Speaking about his vision for the castle as new director, Mr Blofeld said while no major changes were planned, small changes could be made for the good of the site and town.
“I am still forming a vision,” he said. “But nothing drastic is about to change.
“From the time I first came here I was blown away, it really is an iconic location.
“I need to believe in any project I take on, and I really believe in this castle as a special place.