Plas Kynaston is a Grade II listed house located within the Cefn Mawr conservation area, in the County Borough of 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 Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. At the time of the construction of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the Plas Kynaston Foundry was at the cutting edge of industrial technology, and this is what made the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct’s revolutionary construction possible. Plas Kynaston’s association with the Plas Kynaston Foundry and therefore with the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct give the building added significance as the Aqueduct and Canal are now a World Heritage Site and Cefn Mawr is included in the World Heritage Buffer Zone.
Plas Kynaston in 2014 before restoration work commenced
Plas Kynaston served as the local library for a number of years until a new library was built adjacent to it in the 1970s. In recent years the house has remained empty although maintained and secured. A scheme to convert it for use as a kindergarten was abandoned approximately 10 years ago and a plan to re-house the library in the building, involving the construction of a new extension was put forward in 2009, but later rejected due to the significant Council funding required. As a result it is without a use and on the Buildings at Risk Register.
The Welsh Georgian Trust approached Wrexham County Borough Council to work together to secure the future of the house, following a suggestion that we get involved by then AHF trustee. We produced an Options Appraisal Report with the help of the Architectural Heritage Fund. is the result and follows an extended programme of consultation and research.
The most important issue of the appraisal was that of finding a long-term, economically viable use for the house. A further consideration was the community benefit that may or may not be derived from the conservation, refurbishment and reuse of the house.
Community use was thoroughly researched especially the possibility of using the house as a library and/or a heritage centre. It became apparent that this usage was not viable because of the high capital cost (including, in the case of a library, the construction of a large extension to the rear of the house) along with the cost implications of sustaining such a centre and the extant availability of community space in the locality.
Other avenues were explored including the potential offered by conversion to tourist accommodation and use as offices or light industrial use. These were ultimately rejected because of the high capital cost and the present lack of a substantial tourism infrastructure in Cefn Mawr and the current availability of unused office and light industrial space in the locality.
Residential accommodation was identified as presenting a possible way forward including the reversion of the house to single occupancy, the conversion to social housing or for private multiple occupancy. In considering this the WGT was cognisant of the need to keep the conservation deficit as low as possible and this has been an important factor in the decision.
After this Options Appraisal – partly funded by the Architectural Heritage Fund – it was concluded that the most viable way forward is to repair the house, convert it into single bedroom apartments and place them for sale on the open market.
Planning permission and Listed Building Consent were obtained. Extensive public consultation undertaken and many ideas from local residents were incorporated into the final plans. The tendering process for the building works was won by Grosvenor Construction.
Work started on site on 8th February 2016 and lasted until November. During restoration works the footpath in front of the building remained open but the car park to the rear was closed. We will divert these footpaths to run along the garden in front of the building and Donald Insall have developed plans which build upon the community consultation we undertook in 2015. The plans have been approved and work on site is expected to commence soon. In addition Welsh Georgian Trust has joined the Dee Valley Trust as this will be part of a much larger project to upgrade the landscaping of the whole Cefn district.
The 6 flats which have been created within Plas Kynaston are now available for sale. We hope these will go to local people and believe they will offer unique places to live within the area. They will combine the beautiful historic spaces with modern and luxurious touches and all will benefit from amazing views of the surrounding parkland and more distant views.
We held an open day for the public to see the restored building and the new flats in November 2016. This attracted over 120 people who were delighted to see the transformation of the building.
For information on the new flats please contact Silas Rains at Reeds Rains on 01978 368000