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Llwyn Celyn named UK’s best building conservation project

Over 90 of the UK’s most outstanding and community beneficial property schemes went head-to-head for top accolades at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards Grand Final, where Llwyn Celyn, Abergavenny – one of the earliest surviving domestic buildings in Wales – was named the best Building Conservation project in the UK.

The prestigious annual contest – hosted by Samira Ahmed, journalist and BBC broadcaster, and held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on the evening of Friday 4 October – celebrates the UK’s most inspirational built projects that are having a significant positive impact on the communities they serve.

Category winners – of all sizes and budgets – from each of the 12 regional RICS Award ceremonies held earlier this year, competed in the Grand Final for the chance to win their respective category.

Llwyn Celyn

Llwyn Celyn – which was named Project of the Year at the RICS Awards, Wales, in May – won the Building Conservation category at the RICS Awards Grand Final, against stiff competition from schemes including The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Project at Westminster, Bristol Old Vic, and Mackintosh at the Willow in Glasgow.

A remarkably little-altered medieval hall house built in 1421, Llwyn Celyn sits at the entrance to the Llanthony Valley whose Priory is further up the valley.

The £4.2million restoration of Llwyn Celyn saw the rescue of one of Wales’s most at risk lived-in buildings. Using traditional methods, it has been restored as a ‘landmark’ for up to eight people. Its traditional outbuildings have also been restored and given new community uses including interpretation in the Beast House, an adaptable event space in the Threshing Barn, and a bunkhouse in the Granary.

Llwyn Celyn

RICS judges praised those behind the project – Donald Insall Associates, The Landmark Trust and IJ Preece & Son. They said: “Extensive research and an innovative dating technique were used to inform the understanding of the farmhouse and surrounding buildings, ensuring not only a highly considered approach to the conservation and repair, but also the use each building now has”.

The judging panel continued: “The farmhouse had fallen into a very poor condition but the outstanding quality of craftsmanship and its sensitivity, using local contractors and materials, provides that its story and history are easily read for those staying in the farmhouse. The outbuildings have similarly been thoughtfully and sympathetically put back to use, providing excellent educational and community accommodation.”

In a fantastic evening for Wales, Canolfan S4C Yr Egin was Highly Commended in the Commercial category. The 3,600m sq building is the headquarters of broadcaster S4C and media hub, located on the campus of University of Wales Trinity St. David’s.

The winners of the eight UK RICS Awards are as follows:

Building Conservation: Llwyn Celyn, Abergavenny (Wales)
Commercial: The Great Barn, Skipton (Yorkshire & Humber)

Community Benefit: Beacon of Light, Sunderland (North East)

Design through Innovation: Caudwell International Children’s Centre, Newcastle-under-Lyme  (West Midlands)

Infrastructure: Queensferry Crossing, Edinburgh (Scotland)

Regeneration: West Dunbartonshire Council’s Dumbarton Office, Dumbarton (Scotland)

Residential: The Welsh Streets, Liverpool (North West)

Tourism & Leisure: Spanish City, Whitley Bay (North East)

The highly acclaimed UK Project of the Year accolade is presented to the scheme which demonstrates overall outstanding best practice and significant benefit to their local area and wider economy.

This year the title went to the £18million Caudwell International Children’s Centre (CICC) set in the grounds of Keele University in Newcastle-under-Lyme (West Midlands). The pioneering, purpose-built centre provides dedicated multi-disciplinary services for the diagnosis, support and research of Autism, making it the first building of its kind in the UK.