Tuesday, 28 August 2012

News - Plans for castle to cash in on Robin's global reputation (Nottingham)

THE pulling power of Robin Hood for tourists has never been in doubt.

But the question of how to capitalise on the legendary outlaw has troubled Nottingham minds for decades.

From a Robin Hood theme park to a giant 100-metre tall statue, there have been plenty of ideas.

In 2009, Nottingham City Council created the Sheriff's Commission to identify how to maximise the tourism potential of Robin Hood. A delegation from the city even spent nine days in America, visiting up to 30 tourist attractions.

The commission concluded that a new Robin Hood attraction was needed at both Nottingham Castle and Sherwood Forest by June 2012 – to make the most of the Olympics.

But after the initial excitement, things went quiet.

However, new ideas have today been put forward to create a "world-class" visitor attraction which will finally cash in on Robin's global reputation.

And the working group behind the suggestions are confident that they are achievable.

They include building a £20 million gallery devoted to Robin Hood and the history of Nottingham at the castle.

It could see the caves underneath the castle brought back into use and a new visitors' centre and café built.

More outdoor festivals and events could also be staged at the site.

The Castle Working Group – which includes people from different backgrounds as well as the city council – has been given the job of delivering the new attraction.

Ted Cantle, chairman of the group, said: "We're trying to bring two things together.

"People have felt we haven't made enough of the legendary status of Robin Hood, and they've also thought we haven't presented sufficiently the castle's national history.

"We're trying to bring those things together so Nottingham Castle is better reflected in a national attraction, and so is Robin Hood.

"We're looking towards a national gallery visitor attraction, something that has strong educational value – but we realise it has to have both excitement and fun as part of that and that will very much be the case.

"It will be an opportunity to develop some of the new technologies available to national galleries. We hope it will be a real visitor experience."

The working group, which includes people from different backgrounds as well as the city council, has suggested three different ideas.

These include exploring the castle as a symbol of Nottingham's important role in social protest and rebellion through the ages; using the story of Robin Hood as a guide through key periods in Nottingham's history; and finally to provide a "significant educational experience" for all visitors.

People can have their say on the ideas, and also suggest their own, from today until September 22.

Mr Cantle said: "We want to make sure we haven't missed anything. That's why the public consultation is so valuable.

"We've had a good look at what people have said in the past, the work of the Sheriff's Commission and the other work carried out.

"We want to make sure we don't miss anything that the public might come up with, like a completely new idea we've not considered."

Mr Cantle said Nottingham Castle, which is currently managed by the city council, is expected to be run by a trust instead, which would give it charitable status and allow it to apply for more grants.

The group hopes to submit a funding bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund in November. If it is successful, work could begin in the next couple of years, although the attraction is unlikely to be completed until 2019.

In addition to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Mr Cantle said the project would need funding from the public and private sectors. He said they will be approaching various businesses as well as investigating Government funding and speaking to the city council.

Mr Cantle confirmed they are not interested in having a Robin Hood theme park at the castle, an idea which has previously been suggested.

"Any private developer that wants to do that in any other part of Nottingham is perfectly able to if they want," he said.

After years of various organisations talking about what sort of redevelopment could take place at the castle, Mr Cantle said he is sure they will deliver.

He told the Post: "We've grounded this in reality. It's not a series of ideas that have floated around."

Councillor Dave Trimble, portfolio holder for leisure at the council, said: "We want to create a world-class heritage facility for Nottingham, create new jobs, support the development of new businesses, encourage investment and provide economic stability for the city's castle quarter.

"We need to do this right, and that's where we need the public to step in and help us make the right decisions."

To have your say in the plans, forms can be found online at www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk, at Nottingham Castle, or by scanning QR codes that can be found at leisure centres and libraries.

A final proposal will be drawn up in the autumn.

From http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/Plans-castle-cash-Robin-s-global-reputation/story-16775559-detail/story.html

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