A total transformation

The Newt in Somerset

A great community asset
  • Awarded
  • Category
    Access to green spaces
  • Outcome

Proof of concept

Transformation of the Grade II listed Hadspen House

This award was given for the six year transformation of the Grade II listed Hadspen House, and its extensive heritage landscape, into a major regional visitor attraction.

The estate opened to the public as The Newt with historic buildings and landscape restored and put back to productive use, alongside vibrant new buildings and gardens. Together with cafes, food and beverage shop, and its ‘The Story of Gardening’ museum The Newt has become a favoured destination for the local community as well as those visiting from further afield.

  • The project has attracted more than 65,000 visitors since it opened
  • Local materials, local labour, and local knowledge have all been key to the project from its inception
  • Of the more than 250 jobs created approximately 75% are employees from the local area generating benefits for the local economy

The ‘estate ecosystem’ ranges from using estate timber to fuel its biomass energy centre, to growing and producing much of the food and beverage served.

Key facts

Occupancy rate in year one
people have visited The Newt since its opening
Occupancy rate in year one
jobs have been created on the project
Occupancy rate in year one
employees are from the local area generating benefits for the local economy
Map of the central area of the visitor attraction, including hotel, restaurant and spa, and the new estate service buildings to the west
Aerial photograph looking northwards across the central gardens area, with the many new visitor buildings and cider press in the centre beyond the gardens, and the refurbished, extended and converted Grade II* Hadspen House to the left

Shifting perceptions of the area

How/why did the project benefit the public?

The project has attracted a series of direct positive impacts upon the local community including the reconfiguration of a dangerous section of a nearby motorway. Two new-build major museums at the estate facilitate school visits through a local education partnership programme.

The economic impact was significant through the construction phase, ranging from using local suppliers for goods and services, to indirect visitor spend in the local area.

What were local planners looking to achieve on the project?

  • To provide public access to what has been a private environment for the last 350 years
  • To provide employment opportunities and training for local residents
  • To conserve and celebrate the cultural heritage embedded in the place
  • To re-invigorate and expand productivity and produce
Justifying the need

How were local planners essential to the project's success

The role of the planner has been central to shaping the project from its formative stages. Whilst it was the owner’s primary vision to create a publicly accessible environment, it was the planners that shaped the masterplan that brought the vision to life.

Crucially, planners played a leading role in guiding the owners of The Newt through the process of assessing options, appraising impacts and then driving each element through the application and decision-making stages.

Green spaces

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Read more about the role planners play in protecting greenspaces.
Access to green spaces