Haverfordwest Castle will become easier to access from the town centre under new regeneration plans from Pembrokeshire County Council.
Since 2015, Pembrokeshire County Council has been working with local groups, businesses and volunteers on ambitious plans to bring the castle back into use and play an important role in the regeneration of the county town.
The plan has multiple phases, with the first costing £4 million, and Pembrokeshire County Council is pledging £475,000 as match funding towards the vision.
Mike Cavanagh, Head of Culture, Leisure and Registration, said he sees this work as vital to the transformation of Haverfordwest and PCC’s vision of making the town a destination of choice.
“Although the castle is very centrally placed, it does not look or feel close to the town centre. You can see the castle looming above but it soon disappears and it is very hard to know how to get to it from the town centre,” said Mr Cavanagh.
The council will also create easier ways to walk up to the castle and a perimeter wall walk around the outside of the medieval fortress.
It also plans to build an outdoor events space in the castle grounds with a capacity of around 500.
The events space will have an all-weather cover, hosting everything from comedy, music, theatre through to specialist, local markets.
Mr Cavanagh added: “The castle redevelopment can help regenerate the town by bringing both local people and tourists to Haverfordwest. It really can become a cultural showpiece.
“We know that towns cannot survive on retail alone these days. They need high quality leisure opportunities to draw people back into our destinations.”
The council is putting together a funding application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and researching other funding opportunities for the regeneration project.
The second phase of the scheme for the castle will see the prison building within the castle grounds, formerly Pembrokeshire Archives, transformed into a visitor attraction based around the heritage of the county.
Haverfordwest castle is more than 900 years old and has a long and rich history.
In 1289 Queen Eleanor, the wife of Edward I ‘The Longshanks’ – of Braveheart infamy – acquired it.
In 1648, Oliver Cromwell ordered the castle to be dismantled but the order was not carried out.
The ruins of the castle were robbed of dressed stone over successive centuries, leaving what can be seen today.