PRESS RELEASE: Controversial Norris Castle plans thrown out by Isle of Wight planners

Highly controversial scheme involving one of Britain’s most outstanding ensembles of historic buildings on the Isle of Wight is thrown out

9th May 2024  

SAVE Britain’s Heritage has welcomed the decision by Isle of Wight Council to refuse consent for plans which would have caused drastic harm to one of Britain’s most remarkable Regency ensembles of listed buildings and protected parklands.  

Councillors unanimously voted against the proposals at planning committee. They found that a plan to convert Norris Castle into a luxury 5-star hotel and build extensively across its parklands would cause unjustified harm to one of the country’s most historically important estates.  

SAVE called on councillors to reject this alarming proposal in a letter submitted ahead of the planning committee meeting on 16th April. SAVE previously objected to the scheme in 2022, when the £107m proposal by Norris Castle Estate (Group) Ltd first emerged. Along with Historic England, the Gardens Trust and the Georgian Group, and over 60 public comments, we submitted objections strongly reinforcing our concerns.

The scheme proposed converting Norris Castle into 17-room hotel, with a further 57 suites housed in new extensions to the north and west of the castle. Both Norris Castle and Norris Castle Farm are grade I listed, a status reserved by Historic England only for buildings of the highest importance. Along the shoreline, four prominent new structures known as the ‘sentinel’ buildings were proposed to provide more resort accommodation.  

Norris Castle lies in finely landscaped parklands, designed by Humphry Repton and is the only grade I listed park and garden on the Isle of Wight.

While we welcome this decisive move by the council to protect this landscape and buildings of national significance, the future of the Norris Castle Estate still hangs in the balance. It is now of the utmost importance that a more sensitive scheme and a financially viable use for the castle and its parklands is found.  

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, says: “The council has rightly acted to reject this proposal which would unjustly damage one of Britain’s most outstanding historic estates. SAVE was pleased to support the concerns of national heritage organisations as well as many local people. Any future proposal concerning Norris Castle Estate must remain sensitive to its remarkably intact and unaltered character.” 



Norris Castle and Estate is ‘one of the sublime masterpieces of the English Picturesque’. Set on the coastal peninsula east of Cowes, the Norris Castle Estate is an unusually well-preserved and highly picturesque ensemble of house, landscape and ancillary buildings. Norris Castle, Norris Castle Farm and Norris Castle Registered Park and Garden were all conceived and developed as a whole at a single point in time (1790s) and survive today as one of the most complete and significant examples of a Regency estate in the country. In recognition of their historic and architectural significance, all three were granted grade I listed status in 1987. 

The castle and park were the joint creation of the prodigiously talented architect James Wyatt and the equally renowned landscape gardener Humphry Repton for Lord Henry Seymour in 1799. The estate further consists of 225 acres of parkland fronting the Solent.  

The parkland is comprised of open landscaped park and pleasure grounds, interspersed with planted woodland and copses, deliberately laid out to preserve and elevate the setting of the Gothic castle. The natural undulating topography of the estate creates both enclosed views and commanding vistas to and from the Solent.  

The castle's famous guests include Queen Victoria, whose beloved Osborne House Estate adjoins to the east, the Prince Regent and Kaiser Wilhelm. 


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