On Monday 21st July 2003 members of Dudley Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of a £100 million redevelopment of Castle Hill - once part of Woodsetton village.
St. Modwen Developments, a Birmingham based group, proposed independent schemes for the zoo and castle, coupled with retail outlets, a garden centre, a dinosaur themed exhibition in Stores Cavern and housing on Peggy's Meadow, a sensitive ecological site.
The controversial package had been attacked by a number of lobby groups including Friends of Dudley Castle, the nearby Black Country Living Museum and the Black Country Geological Society. A recent public meeting, hosted by St. Modwen, was also hostile to the proposals.
Detailed plans will include a two storey museum in the castle courtyard and a much changed zoo layout with new animal enclosures and listed concrete structures fully restored.
The infrastructure for the long term programme will see new entrances for the zoo and castle, extensive car parking and a dedicated station on the planned Midland Metro tram line from Wednesbury to the Merry Hill shopping complex.
The mixed reception to the project should ensure continuous news coverage for years to come - Castle Hill might well be the site of many more 'battles'. The castle's history will feature in the museum together with the concept of 'Siege Craft'. An apt description of the JCBs and other equipment needed for the construction work!