News Archive

Revised plan for £100m Castle Hill, Dudley, Scheme

St Modwen Developments Ltd today (December 22) submitted a new planning application for its £100 million scheme at Castle Hill, Dudley, which reflects and builds on the 26 months of extensive consultation since the first application was made in August 2001.

The vision remains to create a national flagship visitor attraction drawing over one million visitors per year into Dudley with a cluster of exciting linked attractions which will be individually as good as any in the UK.

These will include:

* A totally revamped Zoo with high quality natural exhibits that will

enable the Zoo to continue to fulfil a leading role in education and

conservation programmes.

* A Castle-based attraction,Siegecraft ,comprising a high-tech experience

providing entertaining and educational interpretation of the medieval and

Civil War history of Dudley Castle.

* A new attraction, Origins, dealing with the origins of life on Earth to

the age of the Dinosaurs, with a further extension planned into the caverns.

* A street containing a range of cafe and restaurant facilities with

specialist units for heritage, craft and tourism related merchandise.

* A garden centre of regional importance linked to the existing and

proposed visitor attractions.

A woodland walk which will offer the opportunity for interpretive exploration of the existing woodland on Castle Hill.

The proposals are expected to create up to 1,000 jobs, predominantly recruiting from the local area.

Since the last application, numerous consultations have been undertaken with the local authority, English Heritage, local residents and other interested parties, culminating in a public meeting earlier this year and an open vote by Dudley Council on July 21 which voted in favour of proceeding with the

scheme.

Much effort has since been spent trying to refine the original scheme and enhance its overall appeal whilst addressing any issues which remained from the previous application that could be accommodated. Anthony Glossop, deputy chairman and chief executive of St Modwen Properties PLC, said: “The scheme has evolved considerably since we started and through a process of open discussion with our partners and other stakeholders, I believe we have created the most exciting attraction planned within the

whole of the West Midlands.

“Every issue raised through our series of public consultations has been addressed and where we can we have altered the scheme accordingly.” Peter Suddock, chief executive of Dudley Zoological Gardens, said: “We are pleased to see the application has been presented to the local authority following a considerable amount of work by all parties to make this exciting opportunity a success. The investment in Dudley, and in particular Dudley Zoological Gardens, will make this area a kep part of the renaissance of the Black Country economy.”

Coun. David Caunt, leader of Dudley Council, commented: “I am delighted that everyone will now have the chance to see the exciting proposals in full. The council knows that Castle Hill is an extremely important site for the borough and the new proposals promise a tourist attraction that we can all

be proud of. “The potential 1,000 new jobs for local people, alongside the investment that could be attracted to the town means this scheme will be a shot in the arm for Dudley town centre and the borough as a whole.” John Edwards, chief executive of Advantage West Midlands, said:

“Dudley Zoo and Castle has enormous economic and tourist potential, not just for the borough of Dudley but for the wider West Midlands region. Very few towns can boast a medieval castle as one of their treasures. Advantage West Midlands is eager to see the full economic potential of this site fulfilled while still retaining the charm and character which has made it internationally famous.”

For further information contact Derek West of St Modwen on 0121-456-2800 or David Cockroft of St Modwen (07720-469197). Issued by Paul Raymer of Howle Chapman Raymer (0121-236-7771).