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 served as the local library for a number of years until a new library was built adjacent to it in the 1970s. In following years, the house 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 Architectural Heritage Fund trustee. We produced an Options Appraisal Report with the help of the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF), following 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 Trust 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 AHF – 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. It was critical that Plas Kynaston was restored to high standards, befitting its status, whilst keeping the conservation deficit as low as possible.
Planning permission and Listed Building Consent were obtained in 2015. Extensive public consultation was also undertaken in 2015 and many ideas from local residents were incorporated into the final plans. A grant was secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Cefn Mawr Townscape Heritage Initiative and finance was obtained from the AHF. Following planning permission and Listed Building Consent, Grosvenor Construction started work on site on 8th February 2016 and this lasted until early 2017.
Many issues had to be overcome, including the removal of unsympathetic past alterations and reinstatement of architectural features. Evidence of protected bat species provided a further challenge, as this could have impacted on the extent of the redevelopment and viability of the project. With expert advice from an ecologist and in consultation with Natural Resources Wales, this was addressed through careful planning and construction practices, along with the creation of alternative habitat.
We held an open day for the public to see the restored building and the new apartments in November 2016. This attracted over 120 people who were delighted to see the transformation of the building.
In November 2017, we were delighted to accept Wrexham Area Civic Society’s Award for ‘Conservation of an Existing Building of Historic or Architectural Interest’. The citation highlighted: ‘This is an exemplary project which has overcome many problems and saved an important Georgian building while providing homes for local people, all within the context of the Cefn Mawr regeneration initiative and located on the edge of a World Heritage Site.’
In September 2018, Plas Kynaston was one of three projects shortlisted for the Heritage Angel Awards Wales for ‘Best Rescue of an Historic Building or Place (for projects under £5m)’. We are delighted to have been shortlisted and to have the recognition for the many years of volunteer and community effort which has been put into this important project.
The apartments offer unique places to live within the area, combining beautiful period features, modern amenities, and amazing views of the surrounding parkland and beyond.
Four of the six apartments have already been sold on long leases, with the Trust retaining the freehold of the property, thereby ensuring continued stewardship of the building. Just two apartments now remain for sale: Apartment 5 (click here for sales particulars) and Apartment 6 (click here for sales particulars).
For information on these apartments please contact Silas Rains at Reeds Rains on 01978 368000 (www.reedsrains.co.uk/estate-agent/wrexham).