Improving visitor facilities at Croft Castle

Cars parking along the drive at Croft Castle in Herefordshire

We've recently received access to some funding to improve our car park and toilets at Croft, which will significantly enhance the overall experience for our supporters. Read on to discover more about what we're doing, why, the benefits of the project and who we've consulted with.

What are we doing?

Due to an ever increasing number of supporters visiting Croft, it is necessary for us to improve our on-site facilities. This will focus primarily on the car park, overflow car park and toilets. We wish to expand and enhance the current toilet block and improve the car park and overflow car park. This will also involve installing a sewage treatment plant below the ha-ha. 

Why is this necessary?

Croft has grown significantly in visitor numbers over the last 10 years and our facilities now need to be improved in order to accommodate this. Our current car park allows parking too close to some of our most notable native ancient trees; car parking is not marked out at Croft and this leaves trees vulnerable to cars parking too closely and their roots suffer as a consequence of this. The changes would help to alleviate this. 

We also wish to improve the surface of the overflow car park so that it can be used all year round. These changes will improve visitor flow and orientation on busy days. The toilets also suffer when we're very busy; we plan to provide more toilets and a Changing Places facility which will save queueing during busy periods and will also make Croft more accessible.  

Drive way leading up to the car park
The drive at Croft Castle
Drive way leading up to the car park

We need to improve the quality of life of the ancient oaks in the carpark. To do this, we will be felling at least three trees to begin the car park improvements. These trees are being felled to give our native ancient trees more space to breathe, and to help us move parking away from these historic oaks which support so much wildlife and create biodiverse habitats of their own (bats, dead-wood invertebrates and fungi all thrive off our ancient oaks in particular).

We will be felling a Douglas Fir in the main car park, which has been assessed by specialists to ensure the works will not have a negative impact on other wildlife and fungi. We will also remove a pine tree in the field to the south of the drive, which will allow us to accommodate most of our busy day demand for space, as well as ensure car parking spaces are kept away from ancient trees.

These plans recognise our capacity at Croft, and so we're protecting our more notable trees and keeping Croft tranquil and distinctive, whilst also ensuring that people can continue to access these significant features, without damaging what makes them so special.

Ongoing damage to tree roots is not an option for us; we want people to access these special places within our estate, but by continuing to park right under the avenue, we're harming our historic and natural environment.

We have spent considerable time and resource thinking about how we can continue to provide access at Croft while reducing impacts on historic views and historic trees. We believe, following thorough exploration of options, that this is the best course of action to provide access and conservation. Without access, we cannot fund our critical conservation projects, such as the castle repairs or the restoration of the ancient woodlands.

The outside of the tea-room and toilet block
The outside of the tea-room and toilet block at Croft Castle in Herefordshire
The outside of the tea-room and toilet block

When is this due to happen?

During summer and autumn 2019. Exact dates will be confirmed soon. The work is then due to be completed at the end of 2019 or early 2020. 

Who have we liaised with?

We've liaised with Historic England, the Local Authority, the Parish Council, Natural England, the Woodland Trust, the Ancient Tree Forum and individual consultants such as engineers, ecologists and arboriculturalists (tree specialists). The vast majority of organisations that we have consulted with agree that the approach we are taking is the best way to tackle our issue. 

What will the impact be on visitors while work takes place?

There may be some temporary parking set up while main works are underway, but we will keep areas protected during rain with temporary surfacing and tracking. We'll carry out work as quickly as possible, ensuring quality for delivery and protection of our notable trees. 

We apologise for any disruption caused while work takes place, but we're really excited to be able to provide an even better experience for you once improvements have been completed.

Please email croftcastle@nationaltrust.org.uk if you have any further questions.