St Modwen Properties PLC has unveiled revised proposals for a £100 million scheme that will create a series of 21st century world-class visitor attractions within the landmark Castle Hill site at Dudley that encompasses the zoo and 11th century castle.
The new proposals, the result of six months of lengthy and detailed discussions, have the potential of creating 1,000 new jobs. A planning application will be submitted at the end of April and it is hoped that a start on site will be made early next year.
The proposals include Siege Craft, an attraction planned for the inner bailey of the castle, providing an exciting insight into the attack and defence of a castle using Dudley as an example. With the aid of ‘cutting edge’ audio-visual techniques, visitors will be able to take part in a siege, either as defenders or attackers.
Another new attraction, Origins, will showcase the unique geological heritage of Dudley through to the time of the dinosaurs. Using exciting footage from the BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs , visitors will have the chance to face a life size Tyrannosaurus Rex. Origins will lead visitors into the fossil rich Stores Caverns which will act as the backdrop for journey back in time.
Dudley Zoological Gardens will have more than double the current animal accommodation with additional attractions developed. The aim of zoological exhibits will be to build on the conservation work of the Zoo while creating an environment that is entertaining and educational. The new exhibits will lead visitors from the cooler European environment, gradually moving to the warmer climes and finishing in a dome-covered new tropical rainforest exhibit.
All the larger animals (eg Borneo Orang-utans, Asiatic Tigers and Lions) will have increased space and more suitable enclosures designed to the highest zoological standards.
St Modwen’s scheme will also include themed merchandising outlets, a high quality garden centre, hotel and restaurants. A discreet development of new homes will be constructed behind the adjoining Black Country Living Museum.
Advantage West Midlands’ Chief Executive John Edwards, said: “Castle Hill is a key regional tourism and leisure site with an unique mix of historical and
natural significance but is clearly not achieving full potential at present. “If these proposals get planning permission they will utilise an exceptional strategic site which will have a massive impact on both employment and economic growth in the region and significfantly boost tourism.”
David Cockroft of St Modwen, said: “We have worked closely with Dudley Council, staff at the Zoo and Castle and other interested parties to produce a blueprint for re-invigorating the whole Castle Hill site. We believe that if these plans are accepted, we will be able to create a unified visitor attraction that builds on the existing attractions. “The local regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands, are extremely interested in the proposals as they recognise the regional impact of the plans and wish to be involved.”
* A public exhibition of the detailed proposals will be held in the Churchill Shopping Precinct, Dudley, from April 22-26.
For further information contact David Cockroft of St Modwen on 0121-456-2800. Issued by Paul Raymer of Howle Chapman Raymer (0121-236-7771).