Sunday, 17 January 2010
Ruperra Castle, Grade II* listed and one of the most important Renaissance houses in South Wales, has been spared a damaging housing development in its grounds following a public inquiry at which objections were led by the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust and the Ancient Monuments Society. Ruperra, built in 1626 and remodelled by Thomas Hardwick after a fire in 1785, is in poor condition; parts of it are in danger of imminent collapse and the housing project, involving eighteen new houses and the conversion of the castle itself into eleven flats, was put forward as a means of financing its restoration (so-called enabling development). But the inquiry inspector, Mr. A.D. Poulter, found that the scheme was not sustainable and that there would be significant harm to the landscape and historic setting. Action is certainly needed to bring Ruperra back from the brink and in these cases it can be tempting to fall gratefully into the arms of those offering what appears to be salvation. But the temptation should be resisted if what is offered would radically compromise the special character and interest of the historic building. That would certainly have been so here, and we are delighted that the judgement of the conservation lobby has been vindicated at public inquiry, with the inspector concluding that there was 'a realistic prospect that more sympathetic proposals could be developed and could be viable'. Read the inspector's report.