YOUNGSTERS are set to have their say about one of Sunderland’s most historic buildings.
The ruined Hylton Castle and its chapel are set to be transformed after a design team was appointed with the help of project manager Cheryl Knight.
Cheryl, whose background includes Beamish, the National Railway and Cardiff’s new City Museum will lead the team of conservation architects and specialists from Beaumont Brown Architects.
And over the coming months there will be a programme of community consultation and activities to get people back into the Grade I-listed castle and its grounds.
A number of essential development works will also take place including archaeological and building surveys, along with ecological surveys of the local bat and bird populations.
There will also be community events involving the Friends of Hylton Castle and Dene who have been working with Sunderland City Council and English Heritage for the last several years on a vision to bring the castle back into use.
Castle View Enterprise Academy are also getting involved.
Friends chairman Keith Younghusband said: “It’s vitally important people get involved with the redevelopment plans which our final bid for funds will be based on. We as a group have been working towards this for many years and feel that we are another step forward to fulfilling our ambitions to see the castle restored to its former glory.”
The city council-backed community bid led to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and it is hoped this will lead to a stage two grant worth nearly £3million. The budget for the project as a whole has been set at £3,859,205.
Sunderland City Council owns the land and surrounding area, while the actual castle, grounds and St Catherine’s Chapel are in the guardianship of English Heritage, which is responsible for maintenance and management.
Portfolio holder for wellness, culture and public health, Councillor John Kelly said: “This is a really exciting project, there has never been anything quite like it before. Our aim is to turn a historic landmark into a community asset, a heritage-led learning centre providing cultural, education and training opportunities for the city .”
English Heritage area manager Lynn Rylance added: “We look forward to seeing the proposed plans for development and will continue to work closely with our partners and community representatives over the coming months.” Jackie Smith from Castle View Enterprise Academy added: “We are very excited about the opportunities our young people will be involved in.”