PLANS to add a cafe and holiday accomodation to an award-winning museum are being revived after planners recommended refusal.

The trust which owns and runs the Judges Lodgings in Presteigne wants to convert the first floor into two holiday lets with a café on the ground floor.

Full and listed building planning applications were submitted to Powys council just before Christmas which show the intention is also to add improved disabled access to the garden at the back of the building, and parking spaces and extra room outdoors.

The Grade II listed neo-classical museum on Broad Street shows how judges, their staff and prisoners would have lived in the 19th Century.

The National Wales:

In a heritage statement prepared to support the applications, agents Arrol Architects explained the proposal.

It said: “Conversion at first floor to holiday lets will be carried out with due care and attention to the listed building and also to a very high standard in order to maximise the return.

“Market research has indicated that a high-quality holiday let will achieve high occupancy rates and maximise return on the investment.”

Similar applications were submitted by the Trust in September 2020, but withdrawn in December 2020.

Arrol says this was because Powys planners said the documents were “deemed insufficient” for them to decide.

Those proposals were also considered to have a “negative impact” on the historical significance of the building and the council’s built heritage officer recommended refusing the plans.

Discussions to resurrect the proposals started last September with an online meeting between the trust and planners.


Arrol said that comments on the original application had been "taken on board” for the new and revised application.

The deadline for a decision on the application is February 16.

Presteigne was the legal centre of Radnorshire for over 400 years.

It was chosen in 1542 as the venue  for the Court of the King’s Great Sessions, in preference to Rhayader where a judge had been murdered in the 1530s.

Due to this Presteigne also became the administrative county town for Radnorshire.

The Judge’s Lodging was built between 1826-1829, by Edward Haycock of Shrewsbury, and featured a court room, administrative offices, and living rooms.

From the 1830s onwards, it held the Court of Assizes and was part of the legal circuit which saw Judges travel from court to court listening and deciding cases.

But in 1889, the newly formed Radnorshire County Council chose the thriving spa resort of Llandrindod Wells as its county town.

Legal proceedings continued to be heard in Presteigne up until the Autumn Assizes of October 1970.

Assizes were then abolished by the Courts Act 1971, which established permanent Crown Courts.

Use of the building dwindled, and it began to deteriorate.

Eventually the building was transferred to the trust from the council and transformed into a museum which has been recognised in tourism and heritage awards.

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