Insole Court vision a step closer to reality

March 19, 2012 2 Comments »

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A £4.5M vision to restore one of Cardiff’s most historic landmarks to its former glory has taken a major step forward.

A planning application has been submitted to repair and refurbish Insole Court, in Llandaff, and to maximise its use by the local community.

The three-storey Victorian Gothic mansion was built in 1856 by colliery owner James Harvey Insole before being acquired by Cardiff council in the 1930s.

The Insole Court Trust is now leading the project which includes a new community hall with space for 80 people and transforming the overgrown potting sheds into workshops.

The dilapidated upstairs floors of the Grade II-listed mansion will be brought back into use and heritage tours are planned to allow visitors to relive Cardiff’s industrial past.

Ben Freeston, of architecture firm Purcell Miller Tritton, said the mansion would be repaired on a like-for-like basis, using the building materials of the time.

It’s hoped the famous Insole Gardens could be used as a venue for events such as weddings, open air theatre, concerts and exhibitions.

The plans also include a cafe and 40 car park spaces in an area of garden towards Fairwater Road which will be screened by hedges.

David Hamley, of the Trust, said the works would cost £4.5m, with a bid for £2.2m due to be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in June.

Cardiff council has committed about £500,000, while it’s hoped a further £800,000 will be secured from the Big Lottery Community Asset Transfer fund. The Trust itself is aiming to raise £500,000.

If the plans are approved by Cardiff council, Mr Hamley said the works would start early next year and be completed in 2014.

Trust chairman Sir Norman Lloyd-Edwards said: “Part of the scheme is to restore the house to its former grandeur as a Victorian mansion so that people can understand what Upstairs Downstairs was really like, but we also want to provide a community facility.”

The future of the running and management of Insole Court will be in the hands of local residents and the Trust is calling for organisations interested in using the facilities to come forward.

Sir Norman added: “The challenge will be to make the thing financially viable to cover the expenses of running the place. For that we have to ensure that there is income coming in.

“We are planning to rent out part of the house for events, such as weddings, but we want to welcome other charities and organisations to come and use our facilities.”

Councillor Nigel Howells, executive member for leisure, said the proposed plans had been well received during a two-day public consultation in January.


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  1. Mrs Calan McGreevy April 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    The residents who live near Insole Court and use the gardens regularly are horrified to learn that the Acer Memorial Garden is to be turned into a car park for 80 cars. This garden is the only haven of peace in the area as no traffic noise can be heard and is also a haven for wildlife and unusual plants. A petition to stop this has been started and already has over 100 signatures. There are several trees that have been planted in memory of people one of which was unveiled with great aplomb only last July to remember the 144 men and boys of the Cymmer coal mine who were killed in 1856 – the Cymmer mine was owned by the Insole family who were able to build this mansion because of the miners' back-breaking work.

  2. Rachel McMahon April 25, 2012 at 10:21 am - Reply

    I've only just found out about the plans to turn the Acer Memorial garden into a car park. Along with my sister, almost two years ago I had a bench placed there in memory of my father who walked there every day with his dog. I feel absolutely devastated and am disgusted this lovely place is planned to be destroyed. Parking in Llandaff village is always challenging but I believe this will just encourage more people to use their cars on the school run and coffee mornings.

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