To make alterations to Presteigne's Judge’s Lodging Museum, the trust which owns and runs the venue submitted full and listed building planning applications to Powys County Council just before Christmas.
The trust wants to convert the first floor into two holiday lets, open a café on the ground floor with improved disabled access to the garden at the back of the building, as well as creating disabled parking spaces and extra room outdoors.
The Grade II listed neo-classical building, on Broad Street, shows how judges, their staff and prisoners would have lived in the 19th Century.
In a heritage statement prepared to support the applications, agents Arrol Architects explained the proposal.
Arrol Architects said: “The proposals maximise the usage of this heritage asset which will ensure the long-term viability of both the museum and long-term maintenance of the historic building.
“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.”
Very similar planning applications to convert the Judge’s Lodging were submitted by the trust in September 2020, and then withdrawn in December 2020.
Arrol say that this was due to Powys planners saying that the documents lodged 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 Powys planners.
Arrol said that comments on the original application had been taken “on board” for the new and revised application.
The architects added said: “A positive response was received showing support in principle for the proposed conversion.”
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.