28-day delay proposed on decision for Norris Castle

Proposals to convert the historic Norris Castle and its estate, and the Springhill Estate, in East Cowes, into a luxury hotel and resort have been recommended for rejection by IW Council officers.

The plans, which would include 74 hotel suites, 101 resort and spa residences and up to 105 housing units, have been slammed by statutory consultees, including tree and ecology officers, National Landscape, Historic England and East Cowes Town Council.

There have also been 170 other objections to the planning and listed building applications, with nine supportive letters.

Many objections centre around the plans being inappropriate and causing harm to the Grade 1 listed Norris Castle, built around 1800 by renowned architect, James Wyatt, for Lord Henry Seymour. Historic England’s view is that the proposals “would destroy much of what is special about the place”, also disclosing that they informed the applicants, Norris Castle Estate (Group) Ltd, that there was “little scope for development” before they purchased the estate for a reported £4 million. The public body adds that, prior to the company’s purchase, the buildings were in a reasonable state of repair but are now in a “perilous condition” after the owners failed to carry out required repairs to the necessary standard.

Other numerous objections include the loss of ancient woodland, disruption through the development work, the proposals being contrary to IW Council and national policies, that the proposed development is not viable, and applications for more houses would follow. It is also argued that the applicant is not suitable as director, Clynt Wellington, was also connected to failed plans for Taymouth Castle, in Scotland, to be converted to a luxury resort. He was a director of Rebus Construction, the main developer, which went into liquidation owing £2.8 million with £442 in the bank.

The planning committee is due to make a decision on Tuesday next week; however the applicants have now applied for a 28-day delay. Mr Wellington sent a rambling email to all IW councillors and others, in which he suggested that the IW Council should fund repairs costing £7.4 million to stabilise the castle.