Access concerns over Donnington Castle electronic gate plan
Mounting problems with anti-social behaviour are plaguing the 14th-century castle, considered to be Newbury’s most distinctive landmark.
There is currently a run-down gate at the access point to the beauty spot in Castle Lane, but it has never been used, allowing cars to gain entry at all times of the day.
The opening hours of the car park are 9.30am until 6.30pm, and will be properly enforced by the electronic gate at the end of the drive in Castle Lane however an appeal has been made for the opening hours to be extended as a significant number of dog walkers would be inconvenienced by the change.
Castle Lane is a private road. In January the owner made a request to have the new security measures fitted and was backed by Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council which said the idea had featured in the parish plan and it agreed, provided pedestrian access remained.
Littering, and vandalism along with a string of lead thefts -including the lightning conductor, from the roof of the property have been attributed to cars and vans getting into the grounds at night.
English Heritage, as the owner of the car park, must make the alterations, but a plea has been made by the honorary secretary of the Donnington Square Residents Association Jackie Raleigh, for the gates to open at 7am.
“The notice on the gatepost has been there for the last 30 years stating the opening times; the public has ignored it and as far as I know the authorities have never enforced it. Perhaps this helps us now legally?” she said.
She said she has written to the landowner but was yet to receive a response.
“Personally I would be unable to walk up to the gates from the village as I am 87 and infirm, and I am aware of others in my position,” her letter read.
A spokeswoman for English Heritage, Debbie Holden, said: “We would welcome the idea of reinstating the gates to the driveway to the car park of Donnington Castle, as a means of reducing vandalism and anti-social behaviour at the castle overnight.
"We would be happy to discuss with the landowner appropriate opening times for cars. People walking up to the castle won’t be affected by the gate opening times because of existing pedestrian rights of way.”