Signature Project – Brodick Castle Masterplan
In December 2012 a consortium led by Kevin Murray Associates was appointed by the National Trust for Scotland to undertake masterplanning consultancy services in relation to Signature Project Brodick, a major project being developed for the NTS estate as a whole on Arran. The team included WMUD as strategic designers and masterplanners.
Heritage, environment + landscape sensitivity
The work involved not only Brodick Castle but also its collections, the gardens, the country park and estate. We identified the parts of the site and surrounding area that have a greater or lesser capacity to absorb change without a net loss of landscape quality or character. Factors that affect sensitivity include proximity to protected structures or features, physical constraints such as flood risk, excessive gradients and inherent visual absorptive capacity.
The entire NTS property at Brodick is sensitive to a degree, reflected in the area being listed in Historic Scotland’s Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes and being in a designated National Scenic Area. Furthermore, the site is prominent in a widely visible – and iconic – landscape. The castle and gardens sit on sloping ground facing east and south where they are highly visible from all three key approaches to Brodick, including the main ferry approach to Arran. Views from the ferry, with Brodick Bay in the foreground, the Castle and grounds beyond and the dramatic slopes of Goatfell in the background present a classically composed scene that has become the ‘postcard’ view for the whole island.
The capacity of the NTS site to absorb change without undermining its visual quality is referred to as its visual absorptive capacity. Visual absorptive capacity is affected by the complexity of the landform, level of tree cover and proximity to other built development. The location of Brodick Castle and gardens on a rising landform tilted towards some of the most important views on the island makes the site very visible, and from over a wide area, and this factor alone significantly reduces the visual capacity of much of the property.
When the factors contributing to sensitivity are combined and the results synthesised, it becomes clear that the NTS property falls virtually entirely into the bracket of ‘highly sensitive’. This is perhaps not surprising since the property boundary has quite consciously been drawn around the most highly appreciated and most valued parts of the estate.
A Changing Tourism Market
In considering the future for Brodick Castle and potential initiatives around its estate, there are some key changes taking place in the tourism market that need to be borne in mind. These include:
- a major shift in awareness of environmental issues
- an interest in authentic small, local experiences, particularly in rural Scotland
- more DIY travellers, planning their own holidays
- a greater focus on diet and exercise
- an increase in number, and therefore proportion, of single people
- many more over 50s in the holiday market who are looking and acting younger, in terms of their vacation activity and experiences
In terms of the Arran context for tourism, it is a distinctive place that had a finite market of 207,000 visitors per annum (2010 figures), mainly drawn from Scotland and Northern England. Only 7% are day visitors, while 74% are couples or in family groups. There are a high number of repeat visitors (72%), and 38% are classed as ‘regular’ visitors. 53% of visitors claim to have visited Brodick Castle, whereas 21% have allegedly climbed Goatfell (2010). Interestingly some 15% (786) of island population are NTS members.
In terms of taking account of the current and emerging trends, the approach to tourism at Brodick needs to:
- take account of existing + future market needs, including demographics
- capitalise on the emerging market trends
- deliver authentic and memorable experiences
- stimulate repeat visits that generate income streams
- collaborate with a range of island businesses, together with Visit Arran, Visit Scotland, Caledonian MacBrayne
Range of proposals
The proposals for the signature project cover ideas and initiatives from large scale capital investments to smaller scale changes. These projects have been constructed from, and tested by, the participation of the Signature Project Brodick Working Group, local businesses and stakeholders, the local community and key agencies. The projects have also been tested against the vision and goals of the Signature Project, the existing and projected visitor market and the capacity of the designed landscape.
The projects have been arranged into 7 themes, namely:
Theme 1: Castle
Theme 2: Gardens + Park
Main Walled Garden
Country Park and Wilderness + Pay-wall
Theme 3: Discovery Hub
The Arran Story
Theme 4: Accommodation Strategy [Castle Flats]
Lower Walled Garden
10a – Productive
10b – Small cluster development in Garden
10c – Housing development
Lodges – Lower Castle Park
Existing Cottages for Tourist Accommodation
Camping Pods + RV pilot
Theme 5: Trails + Networks
Access + Parking
Signage + Way-finding
Trails – Exercise
Trails – Interpretive
Boat Service to Cladach
Theme 6: Energy + Sustainability
Theme 7: Management + Culture Change
Joint Ventures + Franchising
Eco-lodges – Gravel Works
Film + TV Productions
Some of these projects are shown in the images below:
Brodick Castle Photogallery