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Another major step has been taken in the planned £ 40 million redevelopment of Dudley Zoo and Castle – the Black Country’s biggest-ever regeneration leisure project

Outline planning has just  been granted to Castle Hill  Dudley Ltd, a joint venture between St Modwen, Dudley Council and DZG, following three years of consultations and negotiations, for the creation of a world-class attraction that will transform the Castle Hill area of Dudley, leading to the signature of a carefully constructed planning agreement ensuring that the development will be created in a holistic manner,

It is hoped to commence work on the site towards the end of the year and the total development programme is scheduled over five years.

The main proposals are:

  • Redevelopment of the zoo and castle to include exciting  new theme journeys through the different regions – tropical zone, Asiatic forest and European and Polar areas – plus aquatic facilities and new enclosures for orang-utan, lions and tigers.

  • A state-of-the-art  visitor attraction, Origins, highlighting the natural history of  Castle Hill and featuring dinosaurs.

  • A new access  off Tipton Road serving all  the attractions at Castle Hill

  • Heritage, craft and tourism-related facilities including restaurants and bars, and a 80,000 sq ft garden centre.

  • The development  of  65 homes, 80 acres of woodland to be improved and opened for public access.

Derek West, development director of St Modwen Developments, said:  “This is fantastic news following on last month’s announcement by Advantage West Midlands that it is to provide more than £5 million towards the project.

“The only outstanding issue is the  resolution of a commercial agreement between Castle Hill Dudley Ltd and the Zoo Trust which is already the subject of advanced negotiations.

“Then we can go forward, working closely with Dudley Council and the DZG  to prepare a phased development programme and have discussions with potential operators of Origins and the commercial element of the scheme.

“The Castle Hill complex will create significant investment and at least 650 jobs and we are aiming to attract  hundreds of thousands of visitors.

A major programme of infrastructure works to improve access to and within the Castle Hill project will include the construction of a Metro stop, and  an internal railway to transport visitors from the car parks and entrance bus stops through the site to link with the Black Country Living Museum and the Dudley Canal Trust Centre.

Andrew Sparke, chief executive of Dudley Council, said: “Not only will this milestone development produce much needed enhancements to the zoo and castle but it will also bring into use a long dormant freight line site and the surrounding area.

“This is another move leading towards Dudley town centre being recognised as a regional centre for tourism.”

Peter Suddock, chief executive of Dudley Zoological Gardens, said: “DZG has worked closely with St Modwen and the local authority to develop this project in such a way that should transform the fotunes of the zoo which has lacked capital investment for many years.

“The new zoo and castle complex will regenerate this part of the Black Country and make us the envy of other parts of the region.”

Castle Hill will be the second important major heritage regeneration scheme undertaken by St Modwen. Its £100 million restoration and regeneration of the 750-acre Trentham estate in North Staffordshire, which is almost halfway through a ten-year programme, is already establishing itself as a  leading visitor destination.

For further information contact Derek West (0121 222 9400). Issued by Paul Raymer of Howle Chapman Raymer (0121 236 7771).