Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter
Plans have been lodged to improve “parking and visitor experience” at a key I’m A Celebrity filming location in North Wales amid expectations of a “significant increase in visitors”.
Two applications have been submitted to Conwy county council for the relocation of the main and overflow car parks serving Manorafon Farm Park, Abergele, next to Gwrych Castle.
The site was used for filming last year’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here TV series, along with the Grade I listed castle and its 250-acre Grade II listed historic park and gardens.
A planning and heritage statement submitted with the proposal says the scheme is designed to “improve the parking arrangements and visitor experience at Manorafon Farm Park”.
Access to each site is separate but the applicant maintains the changes will “improve the approach and sense of arrival at Gwrych Castle”.
It continues: “Following the success of the I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here programme, and the publicity gained for the castle, it is expected there will be a significant increase in visitors once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
“It is hoped the changes to the visitor experience at Manorafon Farm Park will help to improve the sense of arrival to Gwrych Castle and have been designed with this in mind.”
The main and overspill car parks will be moved away from the 19th-century Castle’s driveway and closer to Manorafon Farm’s entrance, with trees planted around them to provide screening from the listed buildings and shade for vehicles during the summer months.
A Maize Maze attraction will go on the site of the former overspill car park.
The hard surface of the main car park will house a works compound for a flood alleviation scheme which gained planning consent in December 2020.
That will see new culverts and a lake created on neighbouring Abergele golf course to divert flood waters in the area.
Abergele conservation area lies to the east of the site and the Grade II listed Gwrych Estate boundary wall is “in close proximity” to the application area.
The area has seen huge interest since filming of the ITV programmes was announced and there are hopes the series will come back to North Wales after viewing figures exceeded those for the Australian-based version.
Memberships of Gwrych Castle have rocketed and a Crowdfunder, looking for £50,000 to connect mains power and water back to the site has so far garnered more than £14,000.
The proposals will go before Conwy county council’s planning committee at a later date.