New visitor centre at Conisbrough Castle gets the go-ahead

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Plans for a £1 million visitor centre at Conisbrough Castle have been approved, despite concerns it will not fit in with existing buildings.

Members of Doncaster Council’s planning committee raised worries that the roof on an extension to the Castle Lodge building will be too big – and bright red.

But they have approved the scheme, subject to it being finally rubber stamped by the National Planning Casework Unit.

Concerns about the design had already been raised by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

Council officers say the red roof will turn grey over the years as spores from nearby trees fall on to it and react with it.

But concerns over the design were raised by councillors yesterday.

Coun Alan Jones: “We have a magnificent building which is already there. The design doesn’t make sense to me. I just think of the years we will have to wait for the roof to match.”

Coun John Sheppard also raised concerns.

But head of development management at the council, Richard Purcell, said the designs had to fit in with the money that was available for the project, which has largely been bankrolled by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

He said: “What has been designed is within the confines of the project.”

He said the walls of the new building would be made of stone to fit in with the existing building.

Council officers admitted some organisations it had consulted had wanted to see either a less dominant extension or a contemporary design.

But the Doncaster Civic Trust, an architectural pressure group, had described the proposals as ‘sympathetic’ to the existing building and the site.

The existing visitor centre, built in the 1990s to resemble a medieval tent, will be demolished under the plans, because it is not considered to be fit for purpose due to the lack of toilet and kitchen facilities.

Two trees next to Castle Lodge will be cut down to make way for it.

Councillors decided that the importance of boosting tourism in the borough with the new centre was more important than keeping the trees.

The Lodge, which is being extended for the new centre was built by the Victorians to house a custodian, as the castle had already begun to become a tourist attraction by that stage.