Page last updated at 15:01 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Historic sites 'at risk' warning

Leighton Farm
The Victorian-era Leighton Farm complex in Leighton, Powys, fell into disrepair

A large number of historic listed buildings in Wales are under threat, a heritage bodies' conference has heard.

Around two-thirds of listed industrial buildings are at risk in Wales, the event at Llandudno was told,

Proposals include bringing threatened properties back into use to provide social and economic benefits.

Meanwhile, the heritage minister has announced a £125,000 investment package to be shared among eight of Wales' most important historic buildings.

Alun Ffred Jones made the announcement at the conference.

Grants ranging from £875 to £52,500 will also be used to pay for restoration work on the buildings which include a bookshop in Kinighton, Powys, an old farmhouse in Bala, Gwynedd and a chapel in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Mr Jones said the grant offers would ensure the restoration and maintenance of buildings for future generations.

BUILDING GRANTS

Bob's Bookshop, Knighton, Powys - £15,985 to restore the building's exterior
Cornewall Lewis Memorial, New Radnor, Powys - £10,500 for its conservation and repair
Rhiwaedog Farmhouse, Rhosygwaliau, Bala, Gwynedd - £52,500 towards a scheme of external repairs
Wall at Pengwern, Gwydir, Llanrwst, Conwy - £875 towards conservation and repair
Capel Rhondda, Hopkinstown, Rhondda Cynon Taf - £20,000 for structural repairs to building
41 Tower House, Castle Hill, Denbigh, Denbighshire - £5,750 towards works to repair and replace architectural detail
Bathafarn Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Ruthin, Denbighshire - £15,000 for a scheme of external repairs
The Old Rectory, High Street, St Asaph, Denbighshire - £8,000 towards the re-instatement of lime render
Source: Welsh Assembly Government

"Additionally some buildings are being put to beneficial re-use, such as the former Pumphouse at the North Dock in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, for which I announced a grant earlier in the year; its conversion to a restaurant and training academy will both stimulate local tourism and economy."

At the conference in Llandudno, proposals including bringing threatened properties back into use to provide social and economic benefits have been discussed.

The Prince's Regeneration Trust (PRT) has joined forces with The Civic Trust and The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) to organise it.

Among the building projects being aided by the PRT are the Victorian-era Leighton Farm complex in Leighton, near Welshpool, Powys.

Consisting of 20 listed buildings, 16 of these at grade II, the farm had fallen into disrepair.

But now a range of possible options for its conservation and regeneration have been reported to its owners Powys council after a meeting of key stakeholders and members of the community.

The PRT also put together a partnership to set up the Cadwgan Trust which is working with Ceredigion council to get funding for the restoration of Cardigan Castle.

It is hoped future uses for the castle will include education and tourism.

There are complex issues and significant difficulties to be overcome in bringing redundant historic buildings back into use
Ros Kerslake, Prince's Regeneration Trust

The building dates from the 1170s when the Lord Rhys built his stone castle on a rocky outcrop above the River Teifi.

It was rebuilt in the 13th century and in the 19th century the inner ward was landscaped and an elegant villa was built.

But if the castle was left neglected for much longer it would have fallen into disrepair, said the PRT.

Ros Kerslake, the chief executive of the PRT, said: "There are complex issues and significant difficulties to be overcome in bringing redundant historic buildings back into use.

"We want to attract key people from local government and the building professions to show how a successful project can be delivered and how the statutory powers they already have can be more effectively used to maximise the potential of Wales' historic assets."

Cardigan Castle
Cardigan Castle dates from the 12th century

'Heritage'

IHBC president Eddie Booth added: "There are signs of growing community and political support for action to address the threats to Welsh heritage, and exemplars are emerging to lead the way.

"We want to build on these trends to turn exceptional actions into everyday best practice. This conference will demonstrate that there is policy, and economic and practical support for getting things done."

The Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones, is also expected to deliver a keynote speech to the conference, outlining the assembly government's commitments to historic buildings in Wales.



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