News Archive

St Modwen unveils revised proposals for £100 million Castle Hill scheme

St Modwen Properties PLC has unveiled revised proposals for its £100 million scheme to create a cluster of 21st century world class visitor attractions within the landmark Castle Hill site at Dudley encompassing Dudley Zoological Gardens and Castle. The new proposals are a direct response to the consultation on the current planning application and reflect several months’ evaluation of the comprehensive environmental assessment submitted as part of that application. The principle changes to the scheme are:

  • Withdrawal of the proposals to develop houses on the site known as Peggy’s Meadow. Instead, a management scheme for the woodlands will be extended across Peggy’s Meadow and will ensure that both are managed to provide an enhanced amenity to the local community.
  • Housing will remain an important element of the scheme but will be limited to the brown field area on the raised section to the south of Peggy’s Meadow.
  • The ancillary heritage craft and retail, restaurant and supporting uses at the base of Castle Hill will be reduced from 115,000 square feet to 65,000 square feet with none of these being located on the elevation to Castle Hill Road.
  • The Garden Centre proposals, which have met with general support, will remain unaltered although the location has moved slightly to adapt to the other changes.
  • The Castle will remain under the management of the Zoo with the entrance to the Zoo and Castle remaining in its present position at the bottom of Castle Hill. This will give the Zoo a much larger area than previously proposed and avoid a number of measures introduced to separate the two facilities such as the funicular lift.
  • The siege craft exhibition will be accommodated within the existing structures in the Castle avoiding the need for any building within the Castle itself.
  • The embankment to the rear of the Black Country Living Museum will not now be altered at all. The proposed miniature railway will run on top of the existing embankment and will offer access to Dudley Canal Trust and the Black Country Living Museum.
  • Access onto the A4123 will now be deleted with all access being off the Tipton Road.

Anthony Glossop, chairman, St Modwen Properties PLC, said: “The new proposals still guarantee the delivery of three exciting, high quality attractions at Castle Hill namely a state of the art Zoo, siege craft within the Castle and Origins. However, they do ensure that everything that is feasible has been done to meet the concerns of consultees

and objectors. We hope that everyone can now rally round the new proposals and that we can all push on together for early implementation”.

Peter Suddock, chief executive at Dudley Zoological Gardens, said: ” “The historical relevance of the Castle within the Zoo cannot be underestimated and an increased area allows our animals experience to extend the attractions offered to the visitor. We are delighted with the outcome of this and believe that St Modwen have truly listened to the people

of Dudley in producing a series of world class attractions while minimising the effect on the environment”.

John Edwards, chief executive of Advantage West Midlands, commented: “Castle Hill is seen as one of the major priorities for the regeneration zone, the Arc of Opportunity. We feel that this scheme delivers an enormous boost to tourism in the area and is of vital importance not only to Dudley but to the region as a whole and whole-heartedly welcome the amendments St Modwen is proposing”.

Andrew Sparke, chief executive of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, said: “The planning at Castle Hill has been a very complex issue and we believe that in arriving at these amendments it can be clearly demonstrated that we have achieved all of the goals that we originally set out to achieve, whilst addressing all the major concerns and environmental issues rightly raised by objectives. This proposal gives a bright new future for the Zoo whilst at the same time preserving those elements important to the people of Dudley. With these proposals everyone can be a winner”.

For further information contact David Cockroft of St Modwen on 0121-456-2800.

Issued by Paul Raymer of Howle Chapman Raymer (0121-236-7771).