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Planning application for Elvaston Castle Country Park masterplan to be submitted

Published: 8 November 2021

Detailed proposals to regenerate Elvaston Castle’s historic grounds have been made available to view ahead of planning applications being submitted for the first phase of a £35 million regeneration programme.

Final touches have been added to proposals to reverse decades of underinvestment and secure the future of the 321 acre Derbyshire estate which includes the much-loved historic Grade II* Listed gardens which are the finest example of renowned 19th century gardener William Barron’s work.

It follows a comprehensive public consultation exercise and many months of work with Elvaston Castle and Garden Trust (ECGT), working with the National Trust, to finalise proposals for:

  • building a new café accessed from the upper stable yard leading out onto a new adventure playground
  • regeneration of the lower stables yard into a space for retail, catering and exhibitions
  • regeneration of the upper stables yard for retail and office space
  • new accommodation and workshops for site staff and volunteers in the frame yard
  • reducing traffic through local villages and improving visitor access to the site by creating a new entrance and access drive closer to the A6 via a new junction/roundabout on the B5010. This would take visitors more quickly into the heart of the estate and to a proposed new car park.

The detailed plans are available to view online and will also be on display at the castle on 12 November when key members of the regeneration team will be on hand to discuss the proposals.

Councillor Tony King, our Cabinet Member for Clean Growth and Regeneration said:

“Elvaston Castle and Country Park is enjoyed by people from all over Derbyshire so it's no surprise that so many wanted to contribute their own ideas, many of which have been included in our Masterplan.

“If our proposals get the go-ahead, it will signal the start of the first phase of our plans to secure the future of Elvaston Castle and Country Park for generations to come by making it a sustainable visitor attraction that can stand on its own 2 feet, saving millions of pounds for Derbyshire council tax payers who currently pay for the upkeep of the estate.”

Restored to its former glory, the whole site will remain a country park, free at the point of entry with increased visitor numbers helping to contribute to the running costs.

If the first phase of the restoration gets the go-ahead, it will pave the way for further planned development such as:

  • the repair and renovation of further historic buildings on the site to bring them back into use
  • converting the ground floor of the castle into a conferencing and events venue
  • offering camping and glamping on the estate’s former campsite with facilities for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents.
  • an improved and varied events programme to attract a wider audience.

Once the home of the Earls of Harrington, the Stanhope family left Elvaston Castle after WWII. We rescued the site in the 1960s when it was threatened by development for mining, and developed it as Britain’s first country park. During recent decades, shrinking local government budgets have meant that we have struggled to meet rising running costs while a number of previous bids to provide the site with a sustainable future unfortunately proved unsuccessful.

Dr Peter Robinson, Chair of ECGT said:

“It’s taken a tremendous amount of work to get us to this point and the thoughts and ideas contributed by local residents and the wider Derbyshire community have been invaluable in shaping this plan. Like many people, I love Elvaston and visit frequently with family and friends.

“These are ambitious plans and we have several years of hard work in front of us, but Elvaston has huge untapped potential that we believe is the key to securing its future and saving it from further decline and dereliction.

“We’re committed to bringing the castle, gardens and wider parkland back to life and opening up much more of the estate to the public, including the 3 courtyards which include significant former estate workshops and stable buildings which include a blacksmith’s forge, gas engine and the remains of an original real tennis court.”

If plans are approved, regeneration of the estate is expected to create more than 170 new jobs and increase the number of visitors. There are no plans to build new residential housing on the estate.

The planning application will be considered by our planning committee which will decide whether or not to grant planning permission. This is because under planning law, planning applications for development on land owned by a particular council are considered by the planning committee for that council.

Our planning committee considers all planning applications on their merits and is impartial. All decisions by the committee are based on planning policy, factual information and information presented to the committee, and other material considerations.

The £35 million regeneration costs will come from a mix of public and private investment, including a bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and substantial investment from us. Our long-term plan is to hand the day-to-day running of the estate to the Elvaston Castle and Gardens Trust (ECGT). The Trust is an independent charity committed to creating new jobs and new volunteering opportunities, to opening up access to more areas of the estate, and to sharing Elvaston’s history with new and diverse audiences.