DEVELOPERS looking to revive the derelict theme park at Loudoun Castle have unveiled ambitious plans for a £450 million holiday and leisure complex at the 610-acre site.
The Loudoun Castle Project – a consortium including investment group EIF, construction consultancy Turner & Townsend, planning consultant RPS and heritage consultant Francis Shaw – has submitted preliminary plans to East Ayrshire Council for a two-phase project that could create up to 2,500 jobs at the site near Galston.
An all-weather resort is envisaged with 450 luxury lodges, 12 “glamping” pitches (allowing camping with luxury services) and a lake and leisure development with indoor sports facilities and subtropical water park.
Project chairman David Mace said talks were also under way with “a couple of different groups” about setting up a new independent distillery.
The A-listed ruins of the 19th-century Loudoun Castle will be stabilised, and conservation specialists will assess its future use. Up to 1,025 homes are also planned, with the proceeds used to help fund restoration work.
Subject to approval, work would begin in 2016 with an anticipated opening in 2018. About 1,000 construction jobs would be created for at least five years, with a further 1,500 long-term jobs in leisure and retail.
The Loudoun Castle Project was formed almost a year ago after plans for a £300m scheme – spearheaded by Vicon UK – were abandoned. They envisaged a five-star hotel with golf course and academy, housing, a distillery and retail complex.
The current project’s backers have invested “a few million” in the pre-planning work, and although the new homes would fund restorations, other sources of finance are being pursued.
“We are talking to two or three large investment funds that have expressed an interest, and we will hopefully have an announcement to make in the next few months,” Mace said.
Opened in 1995, Loudoun Castle Theme Park was closed by its owner, Dutchman Henk Bembom, in 2010. The site is now owned by an unnamed private company.
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