ICONIC Castle Hill could become a nature reserve.
Kirklees Council is recommending the historic Almondbury landmark be given Local Nature Reserve Status – in a bid protect its wildlife habitats and heritage.
The move, set to be debated by the Cabinet next week, would also mean the site off Lumb Lane would be more easily protected from development.
Almondbury councillor Ann Denham told the Examiner: “I think as a Local Nature Reserve Castle Hill will have a status that will show that it’s very special and it will mean that it will continue to be managed as it is at the present time.
“There are a large variety of species of flora and fauna and the new status would afford it protection – as anything that happens on the site would have to be taken into consideration.”
Natural England are supporting Kirklees Council’s move to give Castle Hill Local Nature Reserve Status.
The status is a statutory declaration which is designed to be a clear signal to the community of the local authority’s commitment to nature conservation.
The plan will be recommended at a Kirklees Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday next week.
Conservation work is already underway at the Iron Age hill fort site, with volunteers being used to undertake much of the site management work such as clearing gorse.
The scrubland and acid grassland habitats have to be regularly maintained and links are being made to adjacent woodlands by restoring the hedgerows.
The dry stone walls on the site’s boundaries are being repaired by the Otley and West Yorkshire Dales branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association of Britain.
And the historic paths are being restored in order to improve visitor access to the Victoria Tower.
It currently costs £27,535 a year to manage the site – but a bid has been made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for more funding.
Development at Castle Hill has been at the centre of controversy since brothers Mick and Barry Thandi acquired the old hotel that stood there in 1998.
The brothers, operating under business name The Thandi Partnership, had initial redevelopment plans rejected.
But in 2002 planners agreed to extension work, including 10 bedrooms.
Demolition work started on part of the hotel the following year, but complaints that too much of the old hotel had been ripped down and the size of the new one led to work being stopped in 2004. The whole new structure was pulled down by June 2005.
A proposal put forward by the Thandis for a 14-bed boutique hotel and restaurant was also rejected by Kirklees Council.
They are expected to submit a plan for a new pub in the near future.