CAMPAIGNERS have claimed a success in their fight to save Sandsfoot Castle in Weymouth.

They have scooped a £23,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for preparatory work before a second major bid is lodged.

The Friends of Rodwell Trail and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council have secured the development grant for the project.

David Carter, Sandsfoot Castle project manager, said: “This is fantastic news. “Our ultimate aim is to see Sandsfoot Castle saved from premature destruction. “To our knowledge, there isn’t another example of this style of Tudor fortification in the country so it’s imperative that efforts are made to stabilise the structure that remains. “We still have a way to go to achieve full funding but, for the time being, we’ll revel in the success of the development grant and, with good support from our Heritage Lottery Fund grants officer, we will hopefully be able to enjoy the castle for generations to come.”

The castle, on the clifftop overlooking Portland Harbour at Wyke, is suffering from coastal erosion and crumbling stonework.

The Friends and the council’s parks team submitted the First Round Heritage Lottery bid to stabilise, preserve and monitor the structure of the castle and make it safe for public access. The £23,100 development grant will allow a full specialist survey to be carried out to establish the extent of works and costs necessary to stabilise and make the castle safe for visitors. The survey will include a laser scan of the castle and cliff face. It should be completed by May 2010. The results will be submitted along with a conservation and management plan in a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the second round of funding.

That bid will be assessed in September 2010. If successful, lottery funds will be granted for the restoration works to be undertaken in 2011.

Coun Brendan Webster, who is the council’s briefholder for culture, tourism and community facilities, said: “Sandsfoot Castle is Weymouth’s only ancient scheduled monument and to enable greater public access to it would be a real legacy. “It’s particularly encouraging to discover this bid is a joint effort between the Friends of Rodwell Trail and the council as it reinforces how successful partnership working can be.

“ I fully support the project and sincerely hope it achieves a second round grant.”