Controversial retreat plan for historic hall rejected despite some work already done

Controversial plans to turn a Grade II* listed historic mansion into a mental health wellbeing retreat have been refused by planners.

Llanerchyddol Hall
Llanerchyddol Hall

Last year, Ben Sutterby, Raj Saini and George Doge bought Llanerchydol Hall near Welshpool.

The owners say they aspire to provide retreats and workshops including meditation and yoga that can help people improve their mental wellbeing as well as provide exhibition space for Welsh artists and “boutique” accommodation.

Earlier this year they submitted both full and listed building consent planning applications to Powys County Council that would have turned the hall into a mental health wellbeing retreat.

The proposal is partly retrospective – which means building work has been done without the necessary consent.

Powys’ built heritage conservation officer, Dr Sam Johnson said: “The proposal is to bring together the two halves of Llanerchydol Hall after they were separated into two dwellings.”

Planning permission for the change was granted back in the 1980s.

Dr Johnson said: “The floor plans are quite different from those last approved and this is concerning.

“Room layouts have changed; doorways have been opened up/blocked and a whole section of corridor is missing along with a staircase and other partition walls.”

Dr Johnson added that these changes over the years had not been given the necessary planning consent and are “likely” to have harmed the character of the historic building. On the current applications Dr Johnson went on to list 16 problems with the proposals that would be “detrimental to the character and/or architectural interest of the buildings”.

These include proposed bathrooms, spa and gym, removing of internal walls as well as inserting new ones.

Dr Johnson was also concerned about a proposal to put slate over an historic conservatory roof as well as fitting an oil-fired central heating boiler and the associated pipe work.

Dr Johnson recommended “refusal and enforcement action”.

He said: “It is not considered that sufficient information has been submitted with the application to fully assess the extent of the works proposed to this listed building and the impact on the adjacent listed buildings and registered historic park and garden.

“The application has failed to show why works which would affect the character of a listed building are desirable or necessary. Several of the proposals included within the plans are considered inappropriate and if implemented would severely affect the character and historic fabric of this listed building.”

In light of all of these issues, planning officer, Luke Woosnam said: “The proposed development does not fundamentally comply with relevant planning policy and the recommendation is one of refusal.”

A Tudor house occupied the site but burnt down around 1776.

After this, David Pugh, a local man who made a fortune selling tea in London, bought the site and built a new house which became known as Llanerchydol Hall.

John Repton was engaged to landscape the surrounding parkland and gardens which included a Japanese water garden.

The Repton parkland is listed in its own right.

The name Llanerchydol comes from the Welsh “Llannerch Hudol” which means magic glade.

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