Date: Saturday 27th March 1999

THE owner of Appleby Castle, Christopher Nightingale, this week accused English Heritage of effectively silencing Eden Council over his plans for a conference centre.

THE owner of Appleby Castle, Christopher Nightingale, this week accused English Heritage of effectively silencing Eden Council over his plans for a conference centre.

The council’s planning committee met last week to consider the application for a conference centre at the castle following extensive consultations between planning officers and representatives of the castle’s owners as well as a fresh round of consultation with various other interested bodies.

Mr. Nightingale said that, as a result of the talks, it was expected there would be a site visit to the castle before a decision was made. However, there was some indication that the council’s planning officers would be able to support a revised scheme under which the original proposals had been amended in order to reduce the impact of the alterations to the castle and eliminate the more controversial aspects.

“This application forms one of a number of planning applications, the success of which is vital to ensure the continued opening and operation of the castle, enhance its value as a visitor attraction and local asset, create jobs and help the local economy,” said Mr. Nightingale.


“English Heritage recently rejected appeals by the castle’s owners, supported by Appleby Town Council, Chamber of Commerce and prominent members of the local community, to reconsider their opposition to the scheduled monument consent sought to enable the castle to open throughout the year. English Heritage had earlier procured a postponement of the public inquiry into this application, due to be heard in October, 1998.”

He added that the day before last week’s planning committee meeting English Heritage prevailed upon the Government Office for the North West to issue a directive preventing the council from granting planning permission for the proposed works.

“This step was taken in order to enable English Heritage to hold further internal meetings with a view to pressing the Secretary of State to call this scheme in for review, notwithstanding the fact that English Heritage had been given and taken the opportunity to pass comments on the new scheme in February in accordance with due process.

“English Heritage’s action further threatens the castle and will inevitably lead to further delays which will prevent any prospect of the castle having further facilities to enable it to take advantage of the millennium year celebrations,” said Mr. Nightingale.

He said he was dismayed at the ease with which English Heritage appeared to be able to direct Government departments in the postponement of the public inquiry and also in the issue of the directive.

“The appeals of Appleby’s elected representative at town level and support of the region’s elected Member of Parliament have been ignored, and the ability of Eden Council’s elected members to make a decision has been withdrawn in order to further the imposition of English Heritage’s policy and views in respect of Appleby Castle,” said Mr. Nightingale.

He said the planning application would undoubtedly now go to a public inquiry, but he looked forward to proving the need for the proposed changes to save the castle and to sustain the local economy.

“The proposals have been carefully designed not to damage the fabric of the castle but will create a first division historic site in the Eden Valley,” he said.

“At the hearings the owners of Appleby Castle will be fighting to preserve public access and sustain this important and beautiful castle, which will aid the local economy and provide new cultural and other facilities.

“English Heritage will be fighting to enforce academic policies and opinions which it seeks to impose on every householder in the country,” added Mr. Nightingale.