What's So Special about this place?
Plas Kynaston is a Grade II listed house in the Cefn Mawr Conservation Area, Wrexham. It was the home of the Kynaston family whose industrial activities led to the development of the Plas Kynaston foundry which cast the ironwork for the famous Pontcysllte Aqueduct, designated a World Heritage Site in 2009. The house passed into community ownership in 1938 and served as the local library until the 1970s.
Why was the building under threat?
Plas Kynaston had remained empty and without a use for at least 15 years by the time Welsh Georgian Trust became involved. It was included in the local buildings at risk register and without an identified future, was increasingly vulnerable. The house had also suffered unsympathetic alterations in the past and, boarded up, it had become a blight on the local area, despite its great significance to local and national heritage.
Project: Plas Kynaston, Wrexham, Wales
Client: The Welsh Georgian Trust
Grade II listed building
New use: Residential
Find out more at: www.welshgeorgiantrust.org.uk
Architect: Donald Insall Associates
Quantity Surveyor: John Pidgeon Partnership
Structural Engineer: Engineering and More Ltd
Building Contractor: Grosvenor Construction Ltd
Project Co-ordinator: Andrew Beckett, Trust Chair
Other project funding:
Cefn Mawr Townscape Heritage £320,000
Sale proceeds £520,000
How was it saved?
The Welsh Georgian Trust was established in 2011 with the aim of championing and preserving Georgian and pre-Georgian buildings in Wales, an important but often overlooked aspect of Welsh heritage. Plas Kynaston was the Trust's first project. They approached Wrexham County Borough Council and worked in partnership with them to establish a rescue package. The Trust's first step was to undertake an Options Appraisal to identify the most viable use. This involved extensive research and consultation. The building had served the community for many years and the possibility of returning it to community use as a heritage centre or library was carefully considered. However, this did not present a viable business case that would secure the capital and ongoing revenue funding needed. There was also no demand for other types of community facility in the area, since it was already well-served in this respect. However, the research identified a real need for small residential properties to buy, since these were in short supply locally. The Trust secured a major grant from the Cefn Mawr Townscape Heritage scheme, which recognised the importance of Plas Kynaston to the Conservation Area. With finance in place from the AHF, the restoration and conversion of the building could go ahead.
How is the building used now?
Plas Kynaston is once again an important landmark in the Conservation Area, with unsympathetic past alterations reversed and missing features restored. Converted to six one bedroom apartments for sale, launched at a public open day on 19 November 2016, it is enabling people to set up home in the community. The Trust has retained the freehold of the property, with the flats held on long leases. This will ensure Plas Kynaston is preserved for the long-term benefit of the community. The common areas will be open to the public for events such as Heritage Open Days, to enable people to enjoy and understand more about the place of Plas Kynaston in our heritage.
How did the AHF help?
The AHF provided advice on setting up the Welsh Georgian Trust and then offered a grant to help fund the Options Appraisal for this first project undertaken by the Trust. This identified a clearly viable proposal, so the AHF then invested in the project with an initial loan of £222,667, topped up with a further £100,000. This provided the Trust with working capital to cover the conservation deficit, that is the gap between the project cost and eventual sale price, enabling the project to proceed. The sale of the apartments will enable the loan to be repaid.