£400,000 earmarked for Saffron Walden Castle improvements

Walden Castle

Walden Castle - Credit: Archant

ONE of Uttlesford’s oldest and most treasured monuments is to receive a £400,000 makeover in an effort to make it more accessible to the public.

Walden Castle is to undergo extensive repairs so it can be taken off English Heritage’s ‘monuments at risk’ register and transformed into a bustling hub for tourists and community activities.

Curator Carolyn Wingfield told the Reporter the news was “absolutely fantastic” for both local people and tourists visiting the town.

“The museum has been keen to see this happen for many years because the castle is of such huge importance to the town and the origins of Saffron Walden,” she said.

“We know how important the site is to both local people and visitors because of the feedback we have had. It is great news for Uttlesford’s heritage that the district council is giving local communities something to be proud of.”

Uttlesford District Council’s assistant director of planning and building control, Andrew Taylor, said the restoration of the 12th century Norman castle was all part of a long-term vision to encourage more visitors to the town.

He said: “The aim is to try and open it up again to the public so people can walk around inside.

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“We want to use it more by holding activities for the town in the castle grounds and the idea is that it joins in with aims to revitalise the town centre and promote Saffron Walden in an effort to attract more people.”

Judith Thompson, from the Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre, believed the improvements to the castle would help boost its appeal as a popular tourist attraction.

She said: “The restoration of Saffron Walden’s historic castle will be terrific for visitors, and will give tourists extra encouragement to come to the town.

“Staff at the Tourist Information Centre look forward to following developments with great interest.”

On Tuesday night (February 19) cabinet members at Uttlesford District Council voted to approve grant as set out in the 2013/14 capital programme. English Heritage has agreed to stump up half of the cash and a survey is currently taking place to establish the work that needs doing.

Urgent repairs to overhanging flint will be made between April and May but it is not yet clear how long the full restoration will take.