Plans drawn up by architects at Capita Symonds for a £10.7m Roman-themed visitor attraction in Maryport have been submitted to Allerdale Council by Hadrian's Wall Heritage.
If completed, Roman Maryport is expected to attract 55,000 visitors a year, spending £4m and creating 78 jobs in the area. The attraction will occupy Camp Farm, a Victorian model farm including a Roman fort and civilian settlement in the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Paul King, associate at Capita Symonds, said: "The existing Camp Farm buildings are in a poor and derelict condition, in urgent need of extensive repair and consolidation.
"As far as possible we propose restoring the existing Victorian buildings and keeping as much of the original farm layout as possible. New buildings, such as the accommodation for archaeologists, and site landscaping will be in keeping with the existing buildings.
"A glazed link between the cattlesheds and the main barn creates a 'street' between the buildings and forms the main entrance to the development, maintaining the visibility of the farm house to the rear of the site."
It is also proposed that the first floor of an existing two storey dovecote is used as a bat roost, which by installation of CCTV could also be an educational tool for visitors and school groups to see the pipistrelle and brown long eared bats roosting in their natural habitat.
Roman Maryport is being developed as a partnership between landowner Hadrian's Wall Heritage and the Senhouse Museum Trust which runs the Senhouse Roman Museum next to the site.
Michael Baker, director of sustainable development for Hadrian's Wall Heritage said: "This key heritage development involves the restoration and conversion of the historic farm buildings into galleries and visitor facilities, and will significantly raise the profile of the west coast of Cumbria as a destination worthy of visiting to a large audience for whom the area is as yet unknown.
"There will be rich, varied and complementary interpretation emphasising the relevance of the story of Roman Maryport to us today – for example what is it like to live on a frontier, to be an occupying soldier, to live in an occupied country, the meeting of different cultures.
"We are hopeful that Roman Maryport can be open for the start of the main tourist season at Easter 2014."
The Netherhall Collection – currently in the Senhouse Roman Museum – will be showcased in the new museum. This is the finest collection of official Roman Army religious dedications anywhere, and from which knowledge of Roman Army postings has informed the understanding of Roman historians worldwide. Most of the collection came from the fort and civilian settlement at Maryport.
The existing museum in the battery building will be refurbished internally to provide research facilities for the archaeologists. The reconstruction of the Roman watch tower will remain.
There will be a continuous programme of live archaeological excavation, creating learning opportunities for local volunteers and students and bringing together the collection and site so that they can be managed and safeguarded together.
There will be a new access road which joins the A596 near traffic lights at St Mary's Church.