The successful conclusion of complex negotiations to develop a new car park for Bodmin Jail has won wide support from key bodies.
Cornwall Council Chief Executive Kate Kennally, Visit Cornwall’s Malcolm Bell, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce CEO Kim Conchie, Chair of Cornwall Association of Tourist Attractions (CATA) Jonathan Bray and Bodmin Town Council Mayor Sara Kinsman and Chairman of Properties Leigh Frost are among those publicly stating that they are happy with the outcome and looking forward to the completion of what will be the largest private development currently underway south of Bristol.
Worth £38m, the development includes converting the Jail’s wings into a 63-bedroom, four-star hotel and significantly upgrading and extending the current visitor attraction. Now, after two years of consultation, Bodmin Jail has signed a 24-year lease that allows the creation of a car park on land at Hillside Park.
In a statement issued on behalf of Bodmin Town Council, councillors Sara Kinsman and Leigh Frost said:
“The Council discussed the advantages and disadvantages of using the land as a car park at length before reaching its decision. The wider anticipated economic benefits and employment opportunities far outweighed the loss of the open space and we sincerely hope to improve the aesthetics of the area to further encourage visitors into the town.
“As part of the lease negotiations, the town leat, which runs under the land, will be repaired and provision will be made for the Park Run to take place each Sunday. Additionally, there will be a certain amount of free parking for people dropping off, or picking up children from Berrycombe School, a great benefit to the wider community.
“The Jail will now be working with the successful contractor to progress the car park as soon as possible to minimise parking issues on Berrycombe Road.
“Bodmin Town Council wishes the Jail every success with their new venture, welcomes such a substantial investment in Bodmin and looks forward to the opening of the hotel and visitor attraction mid-2020.”
Kate Kennally, Chief Executive of Cornwall Council, said: “At a recent visit to the Jail I was impressed by the scale and quality of the work that was taking place on site. The additional 200,000 visitors each year will be a huge boost, not only to Bodmin’s economy but also to Cornwall. The investment means that the Jail will become a world class destination for visitors across the globe and I am excited to be one of those next year when it opens its doors in the spring of 2020.”
Malcolm Bell, Chief Executive of Visit Cornwall, said: “I am very pleased that the planning authority has been supportive of this vital tourism investment for Cornwall and massive investment for the Bodmin area. The introduction of the new hotel and massively enhanced attraction will result in the restoration of the listed prison wings, which have been in a ruinous condition for decades. The new attraction building has been designed to use local building materials in an innovative way, and in doing so respects its historic context. The size and scale of new building is appropriately subservient to the restored historic buildings nearby. The proposals will greatly benefit the heritage of Bodmin and will result in significant local employment, tourism spend and educational benefits for the town and Cornwall as a whole.”
Kim Conchie said: “Cornwall Chamber of Commerce fully supported Bodmin Jail’s application to increase parking for its important leisure and business facility in mid-Cornwall and we are delighted that the bid has been successful. Not only is this significant development a success story in itself, but it also enables the further growth of a major element in Bodmin’s revitalisation.”
Jonathan Bray, Chair of CATA, said: “It is great news to hear that the planning authority has supported this project – an important investment within the Bodmin area and within the tourism industry of Cornwall.”
Bodmin Jail’s General Manager Martin Lyall said: “I’m delighted to have completed a complex transaction that’s intrinsic to the development. It’s my intention to work swiftly with contractors to finalise some detailed design elements for the works and agree a start date ahead of this season with the Council.
“The transformational scheme preserves this historic site, gives it a purpose and strong future, creates many local jobs and is expected to draw 200,000 visitors to Bodmin each year – thereby lifting the economy of the whole town as well as this important site.”