The first phase of the Elvaston project will tackle the historic buildings at the core of the site bringing them into active use to provide a revenue stream to contribute towards the costs of running the Estate. All repair and conversion work to the historic buildings will be carried out sensitively under the direction of South Derbyshire District Council’s conservation officer with the support of Historic England.

It has been identified that visitors to Elvaston may never visit or even know about the core buildings as awareness of the whole site is poor from the current car park. For this reason it is seen that an essential component of this first phase will be moving the main car park from its current location to an area just to the north-west of the core buildings. To do this a new vehicular access will be required running from a new junction on the B5010 (Shardlow Road) between the A6 roundabout and the South Avenue gates to the new car park.

The new access should alleviate traffic pressure through Thulston, Elvaston and Borrowash.

Moving the car park will make the core buildings, once again, the centre of Elvaston providing visitors with convenient facilities and attractions and visitor information to orientate and explore the whole Estate. In turn this will ensure that any commercial activity across the Estate will get sufficient footfall to make it economically viable.

The core of the Estate will become a vibrant centre through which visitors will percolate to gain access and discover the whole of the Elvaston Estate.

The core visitor facilities will be based around the Top Stable Yard and are likely to include:

  • Visitor welcome
  • A new café
  • An adventurous play facility
  • Visitor facing staff offices
  • Office space on upper floors
  • Visitor facilities such as toilets
  • Retail units
  • Visitor interpretation
  • Flexible spaces for ‘pop-up’ retail
  • Events

As the Top Stable Yard becomes vibrant, further opportunities for retail, offices and workshops will be considered in the Lower Stable Yard and museum buildings.

The museum buildings will be developed to reflect their former uses. For example, the Blacksmith’s workshop could be reinstated.

The building that houses the workshop’s historic engine could be used as an exhibition space. Other former workshops and stables could house a range of other craftspeople and niche retail businesses. The stable buildings could also include a cycle hire centre, education facilities and an Elvaston Castle and Gardens Trust base.

The outside areas provide excellent opportunities for pop-up events including farmers’ markets, plant sales and family events. The centrally located gardener’s cottage may provide additional café facilities.

To ensure that Elvaston has a family offer which attracts people all year round the former real tennis court could be developed to house a family leisure/play facility.

The Castle will also be brought back to life. The ground floor will be managed flexibly to host weddings, conferences and meetings. In addition there will be some public access with interpretation. Included on the ground floor will be an education room that can be used independently to the rest of the Castle. There will be the ability to combine the use of the Castle with the Castle Courtyard, where access can be restricted on an occasional basis to give guests exclusivity of this area for functions.

Phase one core buildings map

The upper floors of the Castle will be developed as a residential offer. Short-term holiday lets are seen as the optimum use; as this would also allow them to work in conjunction with weddings or other events that may be held in the Castle.

Residential use throughout the core area of the Estate will bring vitality and passive surveillance. Whilst a mixture of tenure is envisaged, the optimum use for existing buildings is seen as short-term holiday lets with long term residential use seen as more appropriate for any new properties.

There is a long-term commitment to providing public access to the Castle, particularly the Gothic Hall, Gothic Kitchen and the Orchid House. The Gothic Kitchen could be used as an interpretation and museum space, whilst regular guided tours and annual open weekends will provide access to the Castle’s interiors.

Funding for the first phase could be a mixture of DCC capital funding and borrowing, grant funding, development partner and operator funding as well as finance through developing parts of the site for housing, including ‘enabling development’. It should be noted that the areas envisaged for ‘enabling development’ housing are all in discrete areas of the Estate that are currently not accessible to the public.

There is a need for the Frame Yard, adjacent to the walled gardens, to be redeveloped as a site operations base. This will enable ‘back of house’ gardens and site management activities to be relocated away from key visitor spaces.

Phase one works will be carefully sequenced. As part of the initial work of moving the car park and creating a new vehicular access, the opportunity will be taken to upgrade services to the core buildings.

Viewpoints map

1: The view on entering the Elvaston Estate from the car park and passing between the stone gateposts to the core area. The route is clearly defined by the strong sightline along the drive to the clock tower arch with the Castle beyond.

2: On reaching the gateposts to the Top Stable Yard an access route will be clearly signed to the left drawing visitors to the new café, adventurous play area and directly to the lakeside and garden terraces. This will provide an alternative route to the park when the Castle Courtyard is cordoned off for occasional events.

3: View of the alternative access route as it reaches the new café. There will be access to new toilet facilities in this location.

4: The new café will also be accessible through the northern range of the Top Stable Yard.

5: View within the Castle Courtyard showing ‘light touch’ improvements to the modern carriage range. This glazed range will be used to support Castle related events. This view also shows lost chimneys and architectural features being restored to the Castle’s west elevation.

6: View of the rear of the carriage range with the Castle (left) and the alternative route to the visitor car park through the new café (right). A new canopy will provide shelter from inclement weather between the Castle, the Courtyard and carriage range. It is proposed to enable public access to the Castle’s Gothic Kitchen here.