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Plans for full-size Roman fort in Flintshire edge closer

AMBITIOUS plans to create an ancient history-themed country park – including a full-size Roman fort – have moved a significant step closer to becoming a reality.

History enthusiast Paul Harston, who is spearheading the project, has had an offer accepted on a disused Flintshire quarry and aims to have a planning application in by March.

Mr Harston, of Caergwrle, who owns Roman Tours in Chester, gave a guided tour of the 90-acre site in Fagl Lane, Hope, on Tuesday, when he talked passionately about his vision of creating a tourist attraction which would include:

A life-size 1st century Roman fort and road.

An Iron Age farmstead.

Visitor centre and cafe/restaurant.

Woodland, wildlife and ancient heritage farming.

Dog walking, cycling and wheelchair access.

Canoeing and non-powered boating.

Paul, who set up a separate company called the Roman Fort Project to kick-start the plans, said: “We’ve agreed a price with Hanson Cement, who are the current landowners, and we’re now in final part of conveyancing.

“We’ve got a lot of support from the local community, Flintshire County Council and a huge amount of volunteer bodies because they can see they can get engagement with it.

“The chair of the Deeside Enterprise Zone, Askar Sheibani, has been incredibly supportive. In fact it’s only through his support that we’ve been able to purchase the land.

“It’s not going to take much to turn this into something. It’s a blank canvas. People can come here and walk, cycle with their families, go around the lake, birdwatch or get involved with the ecology.”

He wants the beauty spot to be run as a not-for-profit charitable trust with funds being raised through visits to the Roman fort and Iron Age farmstead – which will be ticketed attractions to prevent vandalism – as well as through grants, the cafe, hosting training programmes or activities, and potential investors.

Paul wants volunteers, students, groups and organisations to get involved in the project and to help build the Roman fort, which will be constructed using the natural materials already at the quarry, and is especially keen for the site to become an educational centre.

“The whole site is a huge, top-of-the-range educational project,” he said. “We have no timescale, the whole project is open from day one.”

If you would like to get involved in the project, call Paul on 01978 761264.