The Manchester studio of BDP has been appointed by the Duchy of Lancaster as architects for a programme of conservation works at Lancaster Castle.
Following HM Prison Service's decision to close its facility at the castle in 2011, the building was returned to the Duchy's possession earlier this year. The Duchy is in the process of determining the future use of the castle and is considering how to open the building to public use.
Initial proposals for the creation of a major new tourist attraction, with boutique hotel, education, events and performance space, were unveiled at a recent public consultation event and it is hoped a formal planning application can be drawn up by 2014. In the meantime, the Duchy is undertaking maintenance and repair of the grade 1-listed building.
BDP's major repairs programme will conserve the historic external fabric of the castle, including its roofs and masonry, protecting the building and preparing it for any future development.
Lancaster Castle is one of the earliest and most prominent buildings in Lancaster and has been in continuous use since its construction in the 12th century.
BDP has been involved with the castle since 2011, when the company's Historic Environments team prepared a condition appraisal of the building before it was transferred from the prison service back to the Duchy of Lancaster in January of this year.
Since that time, BDP has been the agent for maintaining the buildings and is currently supervising a programme of investigations which will inform the process of conservation and repair.
Alan Davies, director of BDP, said: "BDP carried out a detailed condition survey of the buildings for the Duchy of Lancaster and we are currently working closely with the Duchy to define and implement a programme of conservation repairs and a long term maintenance strategy which will ensure that the castle can accommodate the range of new uses which are currently being considered."
The conservation programme is due to begin on site in spring 2013 and it is anticipated that the shell repairs will be completed by spring 2014. Should planning be granted, a programme of fit out works would follow, with the new development expected to open by spring 2017.
Paul Clarke, chief executive of Duchy of Lancaster, said: "Lancaster Castle is one of the foremost historic monuments in the country and the jewel in the Duchy's crown, and as such its protection and preservation is of the utmost importance. Since the closure of the prison, the Duchy has been working very closely with conservation, architectural and heritage specialists to determine the best way forward for the maintenance and repair of the building.
"We must ensure it is kept in good condition, regardless of how it comes to be used in the future, and BDP has helped us to identify a programme of works that not only involves sympathetic repairs of the building as it stands, but also help us to prepare for the future."