sunderland council largeTHE NEXT CHAPTER IN THE HISTORY OF HYLTON CASTLE has begun.

People and plans are now in place to bring the 14th Century building back into community use.

The community led cultural heritage project which successfully attracted £2.9 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, is boosted by £1.5m match funding from Sunderland City Council and will bring the castle and its grounds back to life.

Leading the charge will be new Project Director, Jon Charlton, who brings a proven track record of developing and managing large-scale heritage – led regeneration schemes including the £2.3 million Cromford Heritage Project in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site in Derbyshire and several large scale Heritage Lottery funded schemes in the North Pennines.

Much of Jon’s work to date has centred on ensuring that nationally important heritage that is at risk of further architectural decay is saved and, where possible, given a new community purpose.

Jon Charlton said: “I am delighted to be appointed to lead this exciting cultural heritage project, and return one of the city’s most famous historic landmarks to daily use.”

“None of this would have been possible without the dedication, drive and enthusiasm of local people. My role is to take that vision forward, and use the skills and resources we have available to help make it a reality.”

One of the Director’s first official tasks is to meet local ward councillors and members the Friends Group on-site tomorrow morning (5 July) to take them on a tour of the building and the Dene, and discuss future plans and the proposed timetable of preparatory work and construction.

Built over three floors, the Castle Gatehouse will accommodate classrooms, a café, exhibition and flexible community spaces for meetings and events. The community run project will also see young people appointed to sit on the board alongside adult mentors.

Plans include:
• Three floors inserted within the existing structure with access to the roof
• Exhibition spaces to house a broad range of events and activities
• A café
• Interpretation telling the story of the history and heritage of the castle
• Learning spaces for use by schools, colleges and universities

Councillor Denny Wilson, Chair of Sunderland’s North Area Committee, said: “After so many years of hard work in the community to save the castle for future generations and restore it to use,  we’re all delighted to see the next, final  stage of that process begin.

“With all our support  and the financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Sunderland City Council, we can all look forward to returning Hylton Castle to the centre of community life.

“What makes this heritage project so special is the fact that it has always been community led. This will be reflected in the unique management structure with young people appointed to the board working towards the long term future development of the site.”

Keith Younghusband, Chair of the ‘Friends of Hylton Castle’ voluntary group, added: “We’ve been working and campaigning for this day for more than twenty years.

“My thanks go to all those who have been involved in the successful Heritage Lottery Fund bid which has made this all possible, especially Sunderland City Council and their North Area Committee who helped and funded us to develop the application.

“With their funding  and continuing support we now have the opportunity to turn our  hopes and ambitions for Hylton Castle into  reality, and restore this wonderful building into something that we can all be proud of. “

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