THERE is nothing new when it comes to Castle Hill, it seems.
Mark Lee – the architect behind plans for a new pub at the famous landmark – has revealed details of a visitor centre he designed for the hill in 2008.
The designs were commissioned as a joint project between the Thandi Partnership, who owned the former Castle Hill Hotel, and Kirklees Council.
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That scheme includes both a hotel and a visitor centre partially buried beneath the hillside.
News of the design come only days after the Examiner released details of a project to envisage a futuristic visitor centre at Castle Hill.
Those plans were created by an architect and a 3D visualisation studio in an experimental project to see what could be done with the landmark.
Richard Benson, of Lindley-based Pikcells Visualisation Studio, says The Castle Hill Project was an idea which he and Dorian Grayson from Newsome-based architects Form had been developing for a number of years.
He admitted it was unlikely it would ever be built because of the sensitive nature of the site.
Now Mr Lee has unveiled blueprints of plans he came up with some years ago.
He said: “We were intrigued to read the article about Castle Hill in Tuesday’s Examiner and the proposal for a ‘visionary futuristic visitor centre’.
“I say intrigued rather than impressed because One 17 had developed something very similar several years ago as a joint proposal commissioned by the Thandi Partnership and Kirklees Council.
“Our scheme was for a restaurant with rooms, or small hotel, set into the ground but remote from the Jubilee Tower.
“This was linked by a footpath to a separate visitor centre tucked into the landscape below the Tower.
“The hotel was on three levels, making use of the natural forms of the land on top of the hill. From the visitor centre, people could explore the history and background of Castle Hill through various exhibitions before entering directly into the base of the Tower.
“From outside the visitor centre would be accessed through an entrance remarkably similar to that shown in the article’s main picture. “The reason why the world at large has not seen our drawings before is because there was no support to carry the scheme forward.
“The current application scheme for a pub on the site was developed because it carried greater support”.
The Thandis’ latest application for a new pub/hotel is now with Kirklees Council planners, who have invited public consultation up to Christmas.
Two previous applications for the pub have been rejected by planners.
Mr Lee added: “Coming up with ‘ultra-modern ecological visions’ for Castle Hill and other sites within Kirklees is not the difficult part. Getting support, funding and approval for them most definitely is.
“If architects had a free hand to dream up whatever they liked, as many people believe they do, the world would be a very different place and not necessarily for the better.
“Until they do, we will have to stick to trying to design what clients and the broader public tell us they want.”