By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter
Nottingham Castle will fully reopen in June this year if the City Council’s recommended plan is approved by councillors next week.
Last month it was revealed the Labour-run council had lost £593,000 because of the castle since it closed on November 21 last year.
The Nottingham Castle Trust announced it was going into liquidation just 18 months after a £33m revamp project.
The site was handed back to the council, which says it does not expect a return on its loans, which total £2.68m.
It has been under pressure from city residents and a campaign group, Open the Gates, ever since.
Three options are now being considered, all of which set out a different fate for the site.
They include keeping the site entirely closed, partially reopening the grounds but keeping the Ducal Palace shut, and fully-reopening the site.
Option three has been recommended for approval at an Executive Board meeting on March 21.
The plan says the council will aim for a “full re-opening of the castle facilities in time for June 2023, with start-up activity commencing from May 2023”.
If the council was to keep the site closed, documents state, it would incur further costs of £500,000 for 2023/24 and £538,000 for 2024/25 to keep it “safe and secure”.
The city would also lose out on an estimated £12m to 14m in economic value.
Council documents add: “Although this represents a higher level of cost to the council initially compared to the mothball option, this is affordable within the budgets allocated in the Medium Term Financial Plan (MFTP).
“The running costs associated with the re-opening of the castle are currently estimated to be £1.45m over 2023/24 and 2024/25 (excluding start-up costs), compared with £1.19m over the same period if the castle remains closed.
“The 2023/24 MTFP includes sufficient funding for this, as approved by Full Council on 7 March 2023.
“However, it is to be noted that should the actual performance not meet the
forecasted level then there is a risk of additional net costs to the council over
and above the budget allocated within the medium term financial plan.”
Up to £2.13m has been earmarked for the reopening plan over financial years of 2023/24, 2024/25 and 2025/26.
The business plan however is currently estimated to cost £1.886m, and any surplus budget will be returned if it is not used.
Up to a minimum of three months will be required to recruit and train staff, as well as set up any systems and processes required, before an opening date is confirmed.
The City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture and Planning, Cllr Pavlos Kotsonis (Lab), said: “We know there is a lot of love for Nottingham Castle and we were all devastated when it closed last year.
“We committed to looking at ways to reopen the castle as soon as possible after Nottingham Castle Trust went into liquidation and handed the site back to us.
“This report recommends a way to do that by using the expertise of the council’s well-established Museums and Galleries service, which has previously run the site and has the skills, specialist knowledge and cultural partnership connections to quickly mobilise and successfully animate the site with a programme of activities.
“It is important to get this right and officers have worked tirelessly to achieve that, I am proud of the work done.”