Plans to restore and convert East Cowes' Grade I listed Norris Castle into luxury hotel; its farm, walled kitchen garden and outbuildings into a wellness centre; its Grade II listed pump house into a clubhouse; its Grade II listed cattle shelters into a residence; and to build retail and restaurant facilities, are recommended for refusal.

The final decision will be made by members of the Isle of Wight Council's planning committee, who will consider the hybrid, wide-ranging scheme, later this month.

Also under their consideration are plans for a swimming pool, hotel suites, accommodation built within the sea wall, a boathouse and slipway.

The 76 hectare site off New Barn Road, adjacent to the Osborne and Barton Manor estates, has played host to visiting monarchs, including a young Queen Victoria.

Isle of Wight County Press: The entrance, on New Barn RoadThe entrance, on New Barn Road (Image: IWCP)

Isle of Wight County Press: Castle towersCastle towers (Image: IWCP)

Isle of Wight County Press: In the kitchen - a original grateIn the kitchen - a original grate (Image: IWCP)

It was designed by James Wyatt and built between 1799 and 1804, as a marine villa for Lord Henry Seymour.

In 2015, it was bought by Norris Castle Estate Group (NECG), for £4.7 million.

Plans for the dilapidated castle and grounds were submitted to the Isle of Wight Council in February 2022. After consultation, the proposals were subsequently revised.

Permission is also being sought for an access road from East Cowes Esplanade, across the Springhill Estate, and to demolish a section of wall to provide the new entrance.

Isle of Wight County Press: Horse murals on the wall - it used to be a stablesHorse murals on the wall - it used to be a stables (Image: IWCP)

Isle of Wight County Press: An historic bathroom at the castleAn historic bathroom at the castle (Image: IWCP)

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Isle of Wight County Press: Castle courtyardCastle courtyard (Image: IWCP)

The castle is disused and in a bad state of  repair.

In June 2023, its owners were given three weeks to make improvements, when the Isle of Wight Council deemed the historic building's state to have 'worsened considerably'.

Urgent work notices were issued, for the castle and for its farm buildings.

NCEG initially argued the work would cost too much to carry out and would only be patch repairs, which would be useless by winter.

Isle of Wight County Press: Historic books are still on the shelvesHistoric books are still on the shelves (Image: IWCP)

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Isle of Wight County Press: The greenhouse is a wildernessThe greenhouse is a wilderness (Image: IWCP)

Historic England said of the site: “The Norris Estate is of outstanding importance as a particularly beautiful and unusually well-preserved picturesque ensemble of houses, landscape and ancillary buildings.”

The Norris Castle estate is within a National Landscape (what we used to call an AONB).

The planning application also seeks outline consent for senior living units, a car park and other buildings on the Springhill Estate, as well as for the luxury report complex in the castle and its grounds.

Among those to lodge objections are Historic England, East Cowes Town Council, the Isle of Wight Gardens Trust, Save Britain’s Heritage, the UKSA and the National Landscape Planning Officer. Over 100 letters of objection were also sent to the Isle of Wight Council.

A further nine letters, including some in support and some without an opinion, were received by the local authority. 

Isle of Wight County Press: This butler's sink has seen better daysThis butler's sink has seen better days (Image: IWCP)

Cycle Wight has supported the scheme, pending a legal agreement to secure funds to improve routes for bikes and pedestrians.

The Isle of Wight Ramblers Association noted it as an opportunity to create paths close to the sea, but was disappointed the applicant had not proposed it as part of the English Coastal Path route.

A planning committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 16 and councillors will consider a 100 page report on plans for the castle and its grounds, before taking a vote.

The County Press is planning to speak to the castle's owners and prospective developers, in the next few days.