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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 July, 2004, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Handrail row at Portmeirion
Four areas of the village have been closed to visitors for a year
The village of Portmeirion made famous by the TV series The Prisoner is at the centre of a row about handrails.

The Gwynedd holiday destination is being asked to put up the rails after two falls at the picturesque site.

Portmeirion says it is waiting for the consultation process over the rails to finish so that areas currently shut off to visitors can reopen.

But conservation body the Twentieth Century Society says the rails will spoil the village's look.

Four areas of the seafront village designed by architect Clough Williams-Ellis in the 1920s have been closed to the public for a year.

It's an Italianate village like you would find on the edge of Lake Como. You don't find hand rails in Italy
Eva Branscome, The Twentieth Century Society
Managing director Robin Llywelyn said they had agreed to erect the hand rails at four areas - including the colonnade and the balustrades at the front of the hotel - after the issue was raised last summer.

Portmeirion facts
Portmeirion was built between 1926 - 1939 and 1954 - 1972 by Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis
It was used as the set for the 1960s cult series The Prisoner
The finale of the ITV hit show Cold Feet was filmed there in 2003
The village includes colourful cottages and examples of varying architectural styles

"These areas have been closed off to the public because the safety measures are needed to comply with health and safety."

Mr Llywelyn said the metal railings which would be hidden from view are planned for small parapet walls above small two metre drops.

"They would be totally in keeping with the character of Portmeirion"

But Eva Branscome, The Twentieth Century Society's caseworker with responsibility for Wales, said merely erecting the handrails "would damage the aesthetics of the park".

"It's an Italianate village like you would find on the edge of Lake Como.

Cold Feet
The TV series Cold Feet reached a poignant climax in the village
"You don't find hand rails in Italy".


Ms Branscome said the society was not against some kind of safety measures at Portmeirion, but "for listed buildings you are not required to put in building regulations retrospectively".

She said the resort should get together with the Welsh historic monuments body Cadw "to find what are the criteria for doing it sensitively".

A Cadw spokesperson said the body was "currently reviewing Portmeirion's four current applications for listed building consent to modify or supplement various balustrades within the village in response to health and safety concerns. "

"As with any statutorily protected historic site, it is important to strike a balance between preserving its special character and having adequate regard for the health and safety of visitors and staff.

"Cadw are currently encouraging Portmeirion, Gwynedd County Council and those responsible for public health and safety to find a reasonable solution which is acceptable to all parties," the spokesperson added.

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