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Sunday, 05 July 2015

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Historic Lake District home aims to be official attraction

AN historic Lake District building, once visited by Beatrix Potter on her first trip to Cumbria, has asked for permission to become an official visitor attraction.

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The National Trust welcomed 70,000 people through the doors of Wray Castle, on the western shore of Windermere, last year alone.

Now the organisation is asking national park bosses to formally sanction its new use in a bid to secure the building’s future.

John Moffat, National Trust manager for the south lakes area, explained the Grade II listed property had been opened to the public as part of a pilot project.

“Happily, Wray Castle is a really popular addition to the Lake District’s visitor experience – over 70,000 visitors in 2013 – and it’s now the right time to secure its future into the long term as a visitor attraction, rather than as a hotel, offices or another use.”

He added it was a clear example of a “conservation scheme in action”.

“Having tried different approaches, and recognising that the financial crisis has affected how attractive the property is to other investors, we feel that this is the right way forward for this unique place.”

The heritage body, which has owned Wray Castle since 1929, is now applying for retrospective planning consent to cover the last three years of its summer opening times. The application to the Lake District National Park Authority – the body in charge of policing development in the area – also seeks to use part of the castle, completed in 1843, as a cafe and shop.

A pay and display machine is requested for the existing car park.

Mr Moffat, who hopes the building and its grounds will become one of the most sustainable attractions in the area with visitors arriving by boat and bicycle, added a series of alternative uses had been considered since 2004 when plans to transform it into a hotel and conference centre were given a green light.

Mr Moffat said: “We wanted to test the idea of a lakeshore destination that would offer a unique experience for visitors.”

Planning officials are now investigating the application before a decision is made by members of the development control committee.

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