First Minister concerned over deteriorating state of North Wales mansion labelled the ‘Welsh Versailles’
The First Minister of Wales has expressed his concern over the deteriorating state of a North Wales mansion labelled the “Welsh Versailles”.
Campaigners recently warned that the future of Kinmel Hall, near Abergele, is at risk if more is not done to preserve it.
The issue was raised in a Senedd plenary session held today by North Wales MS Mandy Jones as she said the Grade I-listed building was at “very serious risk” of being lost forever.
The MS appeared to point the finger at the Welsh Government’s historic environment service Cadw for failing to take action to protect it.
However First Minister Mark Drakeford said it was the responsibility of Conwy Council to ensure its owners keep it in a good condition.
He said: “I share her concerns about Kinmel Hall and the reports of the deterioration in the state of the building that I and she will have read in reports.
“The position though is this: Kinmel Hall is a privately-owned facility; it’s not in public ownership. “Cadw has discharged its responsibility, which is to list the building.
“After that, it’s the local authority that has the responsibility to make sure that the building is maintained in a state that matches the listing that Cadw has awarded to it.
“And the local authority has the power to issue statutory repairs and urgent works notices.
“I understand that, while the current owners in the past have been reluctant to recognise the need for action to address the state of the building, in more recent times, there has been a greater appetite on their part to take the steps that are necessary, and that Conwy County Borough Council is in discussions with them to make sure that those steps are undertaken.”
Questions were also raised on the issue by Clwyd West MS Darren Millar, who recently called for the National Trust to step in and save the property.
He asked Mr Drakeford whether the Welsh Government would but the building in order to rescue it, but the First Minister appeared to rule the possibility out at present.
He said: “Kinmel Hall is not in public ownership, it has private owners, and as far as I am aware, those owners have never shown an appetite for the building to be taken out of their ownership and acquired by the government on behalf of the Welsh population more generally.
“It would be a very big step for the government to compulsorily remove a building from private ownership, and that would not be my preferred course of action.
“If there is an appetite on the part of the owners for a different ownership model in future, then, of course, the Welsh Government would be part of that conversation.
“We’re not the only possibility there, of course. I know Darren Millar will be very well aware of the National Trust’s operation here in Wales, and there are a number of ways in which privately-owned buildings can make their way into wider forms of ownership with different levels of custodianship for the future.”
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