Plans to return a Gothic Victorian mansion to its former glory have moved a step closer, after the Cardiff restoration project received a grant of more than £750,000.
The Insole Court Trust announced today that it has secured a grant of £761,724 from the Big Lottery Fund and Welsh Government’s Community Asset Transfer (CAT) programme, to put towards the £5 million restoration project of the Grade II listed Insole Court in Llandaff.
The Trust said the money will fund the transformation of the house’s stable block into office space, a community activity centre, horticultural training suite, workspaces for the creative industries and social enterprises, and a new tea room. It will also allow the management of Insole Court to be transferred from Cardiff Council to the community in the form of the Trust.
The CAT money is the next stage in efforts to raise £5 million for the complete restoration of the mansion house – which dates from 1856 – with an application for £2.2 million worth of Heritage Lottery Funding due to be submitted in July, and a decision expected around October.
Cardiff Council has committed around £500,000 to the project, with the Trust itself hoping to raise a similar amount.
Earlier this year, a planning application for the restoration was submitted to Cardiff council, which showed plans for a new community hall with space for 80 people, office suites for rent, and the transformation of the overgrown potting sheds into workshops.
The second floor of the mansion would be brought back into use, with heritage tours to give visitors an insight into Cardiff’s industrial past, and the gardens used for weddings, open-air theatre, concerts and exhibitions.
But there has been some controversy over proposals to build 66 car parking spaces in what is currently Insole Court’s Acer Memorial Garden.
Local residents have launched a campaign to save the garden, arguing that turning it into a car park would lead to the loss of an important public space. The garden, which was used as an ornamental garden from the 1880s and a kitchen garden in the 1930s, contains more than 30 trees including maples or Acers, and five memorial trees.
The plans will go before Cardiff Council’s planning committee later this year.
Responding to today’s funding announcement, chair of the Insole Court Trust Sir Norman Lloyd Edwards said: “The CAT funding is the first, and a very important, step towards the renewal of this stunning Victorian house and gardens, where we hope to be able to tell the story of the Insole family and their production of Rhondda Steam Coal.”
“It means we’re on our way. We’re all very excited about it.”