North West Development Agency has committed £7m of investment for Lowther Castle & Gardens to be developed as a major tourism attraction for Cumbria.
The NWDA funding has been supported with a further £2m from the North West European Development Fund 2007-13.
The backing of the two organisations means Lowther Castle & Gardens Trust can now open the site to the public for the first time in over 70 years, and transform the remains of the Gothic Castle, its Stables and over 20 hidden gardens into a new visitor destination.
The project will consist of the following:
- Access to 121 acres of abandoned historic gardens, and the ground floor of the Castle
- A new children's adventure play area and learning project in the woods
- Access to a 1km limestone ridge offering views of the northern mountains of the Lake District
- Restoration of the East Sculpture Gallery of the Castle to provide a function and exhibition gallery
- A Visitor Centre offering a range of facilities including orientation and ticketing
- A dual purpose education and event room on the first floor of the Stables above the Coach House
The scheme is expected to generate £10.4m for the economy in Cumbria, create 28 new jobs, and support around 145 jobs outside the attraction.
Steven Broomhead, NWDA chief executive, said: "Projections show that by 2012, Lowther could attract in excess of 160,000 visitors each year, placing it in the top tier of Cumbrian tourist attractions. As well as being vital in encouraging visitors to stay longer in the area and venture outside the traditional 'honeypot' areas, the scheme will also support jobs, provide a valuable educational resource and, importantly, generate a significant amount for the sub-regional economy."
The Trust is also seeking nearly £6m of Lottery funding to assist with the implementation of the project.