The owners of Norris Castle in East Cowes say concerns over the plans, dubbed a ‘millionaire’s playground’ by one town councillor, could have been addressed if they had been given more time.

However, those opposed to the complex scheme for the historic castle, its grounds and surrounding land, which was turned down by the IW Council’s planning committee this week, said they were relieved.

A spokesperson for NECG, which owns the Grade I listed property, accused County Hall of poor communication and told the County Press they were ‘taking advice on whether the ongoing damage can withstand the time it takes to appeal the decision.

“We have always stated we require a viable planning solution to invest further funds.”

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Isle of Wight County Press:

For East Cowes, Cllr Karl Love said: “It’s been eight years and I feel completely exhausted but relieved.”

The scheme to turn 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 was unanimously refused on Tuesday.

NECG said it had not been engaged with, arguing the scheme would protect the castle’s heritage. However, Cllr Love called it ‘a good day for the people of East Cowes, and our natural heritage’, a feeling echoed by those who turned out to watch the meeting in a room at County Hall.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The 76-hectare site off New Barn Road, adjacent to the Osborne and Barton Manor estates, was bought by NECG for £4.7 million in 2015. Also under consideration were plans for a swimming pool, hotel suites, accommodation built within the sea wall, a boathouse and slipway.

Objecting to a proposed new access road, East Cowes Mayor, Tracy Reardon said: “We have huge concerns regarding extra traffic. Our Esplanade is much used and much loved.”

Deputy Mayor, Cameron Palin dismissed the plans as hoping to make a ‘millionaire’s playground’ of the castle.

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Controversially, a site visit was replaced by a virtual walk through, when a mutually acceptable date was not agreed, but most of those voting agreed it had been a suitable alternative.

“Norris Castle is a truly special place,” said one of spokespeople for the developer at the planning meeting, arguing ‘the landscape and buildings were in decline long before the 2015 purchase.’

Committee member, Cllr Matthew Price said the plans were ‘an absolute travesty’.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Cllr Jonathan Bacon said the site could be perfect for a five-star hotel, but he had ‘a raft of serious concerns’ over plans for ‘possibly the most important heritage site on the Island’.

“This plan was completely inappropriate,” said Cllr Love, who attended as an objector and did not vote.

“A five-star hotel sounds wonderful, as long as it engages with the community. I don’t think this proposal would have.”

The owner could now appeal the decision, or could decide to put the site back on the market.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Among those to listen in on the meeting was John Hobart, who said: “I cannot believe they didn’t do a site visit, but I think they probably made the right decision.

“I don’t think Norris Castle is going to slide down into the sea, but it needs someone living in it.

“Perhaps English Heritage or the National Trust could run a hotel there, and perhaps affordable housing could be built at Springhill.”