Maryport museum trust boss’s Deer Park warning
Last updated at 12:27, Friday, 24 August 2012
Maryport's chance to exploit its Roman heritage will be lost if a 152-home estate is built in the town, museum bosses have claimed.
Peter Greggains, chairman of the Senhouse Museum Trust, said the trust would not support any new museum complex plan at Camp Farm if Story Homes was given approval for a housing estate on land off Netherhall Road.
Story Group wants to build on land known as Deer Park, and access to the museum would be through the estate.
But Mr Greggains warned: “There is no possibility that the trust that I chair will support the establishment of a new museum if access can only be achieved by the destruction of this greenfield site.”
The museum trust is concerned that Deer Park may contain Roman artefacts that could be lost.
Mr Greggains said: “You can’t bring visitors to Maryport to show them a significant historical site hidden under a housing estate and an access road.
“If you want the complete story of Roman Maryport, you don’t destroy that field.
“We already know Deer Park field has a Roman cemetery, the probable line of a Roman road and an Iron Age settlement site – but how much more could this site, so close to the Roman fort, contain?”
At a presentation last week by Story Homes, the firm’s Janet Carruthers told Maryport Town Council that if permission was granted for the development, an archaeological site investigation and dig would be carried out under the guidance and control of English Heritage.
The stewardship of any significant findings would be within the jurisdiction of English Heritage, with all costs met by Story Homes.
Fred Story, owner of Story Homes, has previously said that if anything was found on the Deer Park site of historical significance, the estate would not be built.
In June, plans by Hadrian’s Wall Trust for a Roman Maryport visitor centre failed to find the £10.7 million required to fund the project.
The trust vowed to look at other funding options.
The project, which aims to bring 50,000 people a year into Maryport, has been plagued by financial problems and scaled back.
The trust was looking to build the £6.2m first phase of the planned museum and visitor centre complex, but needed to raise a £1m shortfall to qualify for grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.
Both funding bodies gave the trust extra time to find the funding, but the grant offers were withdrawn when a final deadline was missed.
Mr Greggains said the Senhouse trust had been committed to supporting the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
He added: “Now that the bid has failed, our priority is to preserve an important asset for Maryport.”
The final housing planning decision will be made by Allerdale council later this year.
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First published at 11:52, Friday, 24 August 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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