Rowallan Castle in Scotland to be turned into a hotel

Historic Scotland is transferring control of Rowallan Castle, which dates back to the Middle Ages, back to its owner, who who will be converting it into a hotel as part of a golf course development.

Rowallan Castle - photo by Sagereid / Wikipedia

In announcement last week, the Scottish government explained they will remove the state guardianship of Rowallan’s Old Castle, which was originally built in the 13th centur . This will allow Niall Campbell, the castle’s owner, to continue with plans for  converting the site into a hotel accommodation, as part of the Rowallan Castle Golf Course and Country Club, while maintaining the historic integrity of the building.

Fiona Hyslop, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs. said: “One of the key priorities of Scotland’s recently introduced Historic Environment Strategy, Our Place in Time, is that we have to be ambitious and innovative in our approach to the historic environment. Change is an inevitable part of this and the important thing is how we manage this change – there has to be a balance between protection and innovation. I believe that, thanks to the collaborative working between local government, the castle owner and Historic Scotland, we’ve been able to achieve the correct balance and I look forward to seeing the re-use of the building acting as a catalyst for enhancing economic and social wellbeing in the area.”

“Scottish Ministers remain absolutely committed to conserving Rowallan Old Castle as a nationally significant monument for future generations to enjoy. This step will pave the way for an innovative and productive partnership between the national agency, the local authority and the building’s owner which will be in the best interests of the monument and the local economy.”

Niall Campbell, commented, “I’m absolutely delighted with today’s announcement. We’ve come a long way in getting to this point and there’s still a bit of work to be done . Thanks to positive discussions with Historic Scotland and East Ayrshire Council, I’m now in a position to progress with plans to convert the building into something which can be lived in, using minimal intervention, in a sympathetic manner that is consistent with the building’s history and cultural significance.

“The end result will be a wonderful new space for visitors to the area, which retains all of the features that make the castle so special, and will be a benefit to the local community for years to come. I’m sure that my distant relation, James Muir Campbell, who lived in the house seven generations ago, would be proud of what we’re trying to do.”

Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council, added, “Tourism is key to the East Ayrshire economy, and an integral part of this Council’s economic development plan is to build on our existing tourist product. To that end we are delighted to be able to work with Mr Campbell to add another option for top class accommodation in the area. Building on the recent success story of Dumfries House, and the work we have done with Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes in all our major town centres, today’s announcement will undoubtedly add to East Ayrshire’s growing reputation for history, heritage and outdoor tourism, as well as creating jobs and bringing money into the area.”

Engraving of the castle by James Fittler in Scotia Depicta, published 1804

Rowallan Old Castle was put under the guardianship of Historic Scotland in 1950. Rowallan has attracted the wider attention of architects and experts in the heritage sector in recent years. In order to provide for the future conservation and management of the building a detailed, 30 year conservation plan has been agreed upon, which includes conservation and maintenance stipulations as well as public access requirements. The plan was proposed by Mr Campbell and prepared by leading conservation architects with experience of working with historical buildings. The agreement is legally binding and would apply to any future owner or owners of the building during the 30 year period. Guardianship will only be rescinded once Scottish Ministers are satisfied that all these terms have been met.

Neil Baxter, Secretary and Treasurer of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland said, “The sympathetic restoration and adaptation of historic buildings to new uses is in everyone’s interests. It recognises that such buildings provide literal touchstones to our shared past, ensures their preservation for future generations to enjoy, provides employment and helps deliver a viable economic future for Scotland’s communities. It is often challenging to achieve all of this, but undoubtedly worth the effort.”

Work on renovating the castle is expected to get underway rthis summer and take around 12 months to complete.


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