OFFICIALS have moved a step closer to winning special status for Castle Hill – reducing chances that a pub will be built at the landmark site.
The Heritage Lottery Fund yesterday announced it would give Kirklees Council £14,300 to consult residents about making Castle Hill a nature reserve.
The cash is the first part of an £850,000 grant to turn the area into a Local Nature Reserve (LNR).
The special status would make it less likely that a pub could be built at the site.
The Castle Hill Hotel was torn down in 2005 following a dispute between Kirklees and owners Mick and Barry Thandi.
In December, the businessmen’s planning agent told the Examiner they would apply for permission to rebuild the pub.
But in the same month, Kirklees launched its bid for LNR status.
According to a council report this would: “give a strong foundation for defence against competing land uses.
“Declaring an LNR gives a positive use to land which might otherwise be perceived as available for development.”
Clr Ann Denham, who represents the area on Kirklees Council, welcomed the announcement.
“It’s excellent news, absolutely brilliant,” she said.
“Over the years there’s been talk of getting HLF money and it’s been delayed and put off.”
The £14,300 consultation is key to getting £851,700 to improve the site.
Full funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund would pay for:
Archaeological excavation at the site.
A programme of educational activities and heritage events.
Restoration of Victoria Tower and the mediaeval well involving young trainees.
Involving local people in researching information for the Victoria Jubilee Tower.
Training in drystone walling in partnership with the West Yorkshire Branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association.
Clr Denham said: “It’s a first-class site but it needs money spending on it so everyone can benefit from what is up there.
“I would like to see greater understanding of what the site is, the significance of the site.
“The tower is in a poor state and needs a lot of work done on it.
“We would like more people to visit the site. I would be in favour of a barrier so we could shut the site off at night because there’s anti-social behaviour there at times.”