“Why would anyone want to refuse such a wonderful opportunity which will conserve 11 listed buildings?" asks architect Robert Rummey, for the owners of Norris Castle in East Cowes.

“It will change the nature of tourism here for the better."

This week, a report on plans to restore and convert East Cowes' Grade I listed Norris Castle into a 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, saw IW Council officers recommend refusal.

A decision will be made by members of the local authority's planning committee, who will consider the hybrid, wide-ranging scheme on April 16.

Isle of Wight County Press: Norris Castle, in East CowesNorris Castle, in East Cowes

Also under consideration will be 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.

“It is a complex application," said developer Clynt Wellington, who owns the historic estate.

“It’s a five-star international brand coming to the Island."

The team says benefits range from 'public access to housing, training opportunities, environmental opportunities, saving the ancient woodland, stopping the place from falling down the hill', after it emerged the recommendation was for the scheme to be turned down.

Without work, they say the castle's years are numbered, and there will be a point where repairs will be too expensive.

There are sticking points over what extras will make the project viable.

The developers say they want to raise available rooms from 17 to 74, of which, controversially, some are proposed for the estate's historic surrounding landscape.

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

“This is a very responsible, exciting, and respectful scheme," said Robert.

“This is a very serious effort and we mean it when we say this proposal is viable.

“Time is passing, and the castle is not improving with time.

“This proposal saves all the heritage assets in the way they were originally built and is the only solution that can save all that.”

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. 

“We will almost certainly be the greenest hotel in Europe,” added Clynt, who remains hopeful councillors will greenlight the project. 

“We can only spend the millions required if it’s a viable solution.

“There’s £7.4 million worth of damage that needs repairing.

"We’re trying to be patient, but the castle is in a really bad state now."