Robinwood buys Todmorden castle for activity centre

Lancashire-based Robinwood Activity Centres has acquired the 19th Century Dobroyd Castle in Todmorden to expand its existing estate.

Manchester law firm Ralli and the planning team of Jones Lang LaSalle advised on the £2.1m purchase and successful planning application to convert Dobroyd Castle, set in 17 acres of moorland on the Lancashire and Yorkshire border.

Robinwood, whose other sites include a centre in Alston, Cumbria, will relaunch Dobroyd Castle as an educational outward-bound activity centre for young people in spring 2009.

Facilities will include archery, canoeing, raft building, climbing, caving, trapeze and a "piranha pool" – a themed problem solving activity. The park will be able to cater for 300 people on a single residential course.

The castle was built by textile magnate John Fielden in the 1860s. In recent decades it has been used as a detention centre and a Buddhist retreat. Robinwood acquired the site from the Buddhist Losang Dragpa centre.

Martin Vasey, managing director of Robinwood, said: "With a strong track record and 15 years' experience in the educational activities sector, we were quite literally growing out of our existing sites.

"We've spent a long time surveying potential sites for the new centre and are thrilled Dobroyd Castle can now meet the needs of schools from across the country. We aim to retain the site's heritage and beauty and develop it in a sympathetic way to preserve its historical allure."

Adrian Anderson, partner and head of the corporate department, at Ralli, added: "As a Grade II*-listed building, we had to be extremely careful about the detail on this acquisition and the legislation surrounding the history of the site. There were also flora and fauna considerations to take into account.

"Thorough consultation and effective planning advice secured the development of a scheme which fulfils the ambitions of Robinwood, whilst reinstating and conserving an important heritage site."

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