Warwickshire Gardens Trust

Warwick Castle

Now in phase 3!

Our  objection here WGTW15-1203

Here is that of the Garden History Society

Foxes Study 1851 (Medium)

Foxes’ Study in 1851. The Castle gardens are to the north; the park is to the south and east. Warwickshire County Records Office

glamping (1)v sm

The Glamping site this summer

glamping (11)vsm
glamping (5)sm

NEW LODGES APPLICATION AND APPEAL

The application for lodges granted 14 October.

Our application for a call-in was declined

For background on this application see below

Warwick Castle Camping village

NEW APPLICATION Ref W15/1203, for “sixteen permanent semi-detached lodges (32 units) providing visitor accommodation a facilities building, (including, but not limited to reception, restaurant, kitchen and toilets) a sub-station, boardwalks, re-alignment of the existing perimeter footpath, part-widening of the existing internal access road, lighting, boundary treatment, landscaping work.

All but two of the lodges are smaller than in last year’s application – single storey, sleeping 5 people, but with breakfast and meals provided in the facilities building. 

The application does not include the 43 tents for which they have seasonal permission until the end of 2017. They are not intending to relinquish this permission, and at a presentation, the manager said they would then consider reapplying for their consent. This means that the maximum number of people using the facility is being deliberately understated.

The Castle’s planing advisers are already claiming (multiple times) that the permissions for 2013 and 2014 and then 2015 for three years (ignoring the fact that they did not have permission in 2013) have established the acceptability of glamping in this location. This make it even more important that we made strong representations against this application.

Warwick Castle Park is a Grade I registered landscape, one of only 142 in all of England. This ranks it with the most outstanding of parks and gardens nationally. It was created between 1743 and 1803 by two Earls of Warwick, with assistance from Capability Brown.

National planning policy declares that significant damage to Grade I landscapes (and other heritage assets of this grade) and their settings should be “wholly exceptional.”

Foxes’ Study was planted in the Picturesque style in the late eighteenth century. It forms the transition between the gardens and the park, and is now in the ownership of  Merlin Entertainment Group. It would have been a mixed plantation of trees with an understorey of shrubs, interlaced with winding paths. Many of the trees are in poor condition and much of the understorey has been lost. However, planning guidance does not permit neglect to be justification for damaging development.

The damage to the landscape will consist of erosion, noise, light, the visual intrusion of the chalets.

The Castle attempt to justify their application by the good which it will do for Warwick’s economy. A quick look at Tripadvisor and their own publicity shows that their aim is for the visitors to spend their entire time in the castle site and eat all their meals there. There is lots of activity for children, right into the evening, families being the prime target. Any difference made to the town’s economy would be very marginal.

The application details

Our objection included these points. Thanks to our supporters who wrote

  • Importance of the park and garden. It is Grade I, one of only 142 in England. It is also the setting for a Grade I building (the Castle) and scheduled monument (uninhabited parts of the Castle)
  • The park’s importance is not only because of Capability Brown. Many Grade I parks have no notable designer, but were laid out by the owners and their servants. The applicants claim that because this area of woodland was not laid out by Brown it is of secondary importance. In fact, its interest lies in its multi-layered history.
  • The impact of development should not only be measured in terms of intrusion into views between fixed points. Landscapes are appreciated from multiple points and the impact of this development from within the woodland itself will be catastrophic. The fact that few Castle visitors penetrate this far is not a relevant argument.
  • The total change of character which the development will bring.  The development will dominate this area of woodland; it will introduce movement and activity where was formerly peace and tranquility; the character of the area will change from landscape park to theme park.
  • The cumulative impact of the presence of so many people and their activities. This will affect wildlife and the long-term future of the trees will be compromised.
  • “Substantial harm to or loss of designated heritage assets of the highest significance, [i.e. Grade I] should be wholly exceptional.” (National Planning Policy Framework, para 132). The claimed economic benefits of this proposal, even if substantiated, do not justify the damage to heritage of such importance.

Appeal

The castle appealed at almost the last minute against last year’s refusal. It is now obvious that both they and the District Council’s officers are hoping to settle the matter through this new application and save themselves the cost of an appeal. The closing date for submissions is 27 November, with a date in April for the Inquiry. So no need to think about that yet. We will keep you posted as things unfold.

Send your objection to planningenquiries@warwickdc.gov.uk, quoting application number 

The Existing Temporary consent

As a  result of the concerted efforts of conservationists, the previous application was refused in November , in spite of planning officers’ recommendation that it be granted.

On 3 February, in spite of the objections of ourselves, The Garden History Society (the Statutory Consultee, who asked us to speak on their behalf) the Warwick District Council Conservation Advisory Forum and local objectors, including the Tree Wardens, the Planning Committee decided to grant the application, (with one dissenting vote)

We do not consider that the proper balance of the argument was presented to the committee and are now will be preparing our response to the new application

The registered landscape is in divided ownership. Merlin Entertainment Group owns the Castle gardens and a small part of the Park. The rest is privately owned.

Background

In 2013, the Castle initiated “glamping” in Foxes’ Study, without planning permission. In 2014 they obtained a temporary permission for 42 tents, of which they implemented 41.

In the middle of 2014, before any evaluation of the impact of the initial glamping could be made. application to Warwick District Council W14/1293 was made for permanent summer use of the 41 tents, together with 20 pairs of semidetached lodges sleeping up to 7 people, and 5 tree houses. This is the application refused in November.

The current consent, granted in February 2015 W14/1809 is for 40 standard (round) tents, 3 premium (oval) tents, 9 trailers of loos (and one disabled) and three of showers, in addition to four large service tents for reception, dining and cooking and a generator. This for the next three seasons. They claim there will be 14,000 overnight visitors per year during the five month opening of the site.

The applicants claim that the existing glamping takes place “without any real adverse effect”. There are wide roadways not on the traditional alignments, and a two meter fence surrounds the compound. New paths in the present application are to be fabric, but how good will recovery be after 5 months, year after year? The site will be lit by temporary “festoon” lights.

We believe that this would erode the woodland by the presence of so many people, it would be very prominent within the area of Foxes’ Study itself, would distract from appreciation of the heritage of the park and gardens, introduce movement and activity where there should be tranquillity, and change the character of the park to a holiday camp.

Above all it is a precedent which would put other historic parks at risk.

 

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