Plans to revamp Cardiff’s Gothic Victorian mansion, Insole Court, have been given the go ahead.
The £4.5m renovation project will see the interior and upper floors of the main house restored, outbuildings brought back into use, and a community centre and a cafe built.
However, a petition of more than 500 signatures was gathered against plans to create an 86-space car park at the back of the house, 66 of which would be on lawns that currently make up part of the Acer Memorial Garden.
John Sheppard, representing the Insole Court and Gardens Preservation Group, said while the group supported the project, they hoped another solution could be found to parking at the site.
He said: “It is a memorial garden, the trees are to commemorate the miners that were killed in the Insole family mine, 144 were killed, along with soldiers who were killed in battle, Cardiff residents.
“The memorial garden has been a garden for 177 years. It’s a peaceful and tranquil environment and well used by local residents.”
He said, as Llandaff is the best served area of Cardiff for public transport, more could be done to encourage people to visit using that, with parking provision at the front of the house extended as an alternative.
Mark Phillips, representing the Friends of Insole Court Trust, said: “If you come here on a busy day, you know what the problem is with the parking. To make the project viable, the number of users has to increase.
“However, good public transport is, we have to make sure the parking is provided for.”
He said the trust had consulted on a number of different options on parking and this was the one they had agreed. He said Cadw was also keen to remove the intrusive parking from the front of the house.
Many of the members of the planning committee said they did have concerns about the parking, but most agreed that the overall plans would help protect the future of the house.
Coun Lyn Hudson said: “There is a small sacrifice, but I think the gain will be immeasurable. This has to be fit for purpose, in the long term this is about the preservation of the house.”
The committee agreed unanimously to grant planning permission and listed building consent, subject to a number of conditions, including a requirement to replant the Acer trees displaced by the car park in the grounds.
Following the decision, the Insole Court Trust said it was “delighted” that planning permission had been granted, and that it would allow the mansion to be returned to its “former splendour”, as well as creating a community hub and tea room.
Neil Richardson, Insole Court project director, said: “Gaining planning permission moves the Trust a step closer to taking over the management of Insole Court on behalf of the community. There is still a lot of work to do, particularly in fundraising, but we hope to start work on the stables in the autumn.”
Sir Norman Lloyd-Edwards, chairman of the Insole Court Trust, added: “The architects, consultants, Cardiff Council and the Trust have all worked together on the plans and we are delighted to have gained planning permission. We are now looking to strengthen the Trust Board to move the project forward and are looking for Trustees with expertise in strategic finance, change management and fundraising.”