Buildings at Risk: Recent Successes from the South West - May 2020

11th May 2020

As part of our ongoing update of the Buildings at Risk register, we have just completed our review of 217 entries in the South West. There is a handsome collection of a huge range of buildings on the register in this most lovely of regions covering Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Bristol and Wiltshire.  The good news is that we have recorded 61 rescues - that's 28% of the entries we held - though some work is still on-going in some of those cases. To continue our series of stories behind these successes and some cases where work is just beginning, we look at a few examples here. 

Roscadghill House, Heamoor, Penzance, Cornwall

Shortly after we put this house on the register in 2018, it was sold to new owners. The house was in quite poor condition and despite its grade II* listed status there had been concern that it could deteriorate further.  Happily, its glorious location and historic charms secured its future.

Standing in good-sized, formal gardens in a wooded location, with views over Marazion Bay, the house dates from the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. Constructed from blocks of local granite, it is built over four floors with ample accommodation and has retained many original features.

The house has now been beautifully restored and is in use as the second image of it shows.

Raglan Barracks Gatehouse, Plymouth, Devon

Raglan Barracks Gatehouse and Bull Point Barracks (see below) are two striking, former military buildings in Plymouth which we hope are now on their way to be future success stories.   

Raglan Barracks Gatehouse was built between 1853-1858, at the time of the Crimean War, it was named after one of the commanders of that conflict, Lord Raglan (along with a fair share of pubs).  The grand gateway into the barracks was the first commission for Royal Engineer Captain Fowke, who later designed the Royal Albert Hall.  

Raglan Barracks Gatehouse was sold in 1991 and has since changed hands at least once.  Although permission was obtained for conversion to offices, this development was never carried forward and has now expired.  It has suffered from persistent lack of maintenance and was deteriorating at a steady rate.

Raglan Gatehouse was put back on the market in 2018 and has found a buyer in a developer with experience of converting military buildings. Its plan is to turn the building into 4 apartments for naval personnel.  There appear to have been pre-app discussions and in September 2019 consent was granted to erect hoardings to carry out site clearance and investigation. This is definitely one to watch and we very much hope this project succeeds.

Bull Point Barracks, Plymouth, Devon

Bull Point Barracks is the other ex-military building in Plymouth which could also have found a new future. The buildings date from the 1840s. The barracks was built for the guard of the nearby Bull Point ordnance yard, which was erected for the Ordnance Board between 1851 and 1855, and to protect the northern approaches of Devonport Dockyard from invasion. Though the buildings have an unsurprisingly functional appearance, they are regarded as a rare example of a very complete and unaltered defensible barracks of the type built at this time.  It is the only barracks built around Devonport for the defence of the Dockyard which still remains.

At the end of 2019, a lease of the site was taken on by Pioneer Project.  This is a charity working in schools and through community projects to help young people and others to understand and develop their potential.  They intend to work with LiveWest, a housing association, with the hope of redeveloping the  space into a thriving community hub. They have recently been consulting with the community about how best to use the site and are posting news about this project on their blog page on their website and on  their facebook page.  It has the makings of an excellent and hugely worthwhile project and should bring new and meaningful life to this historic and eminently useable site.

Municipal Chambers in Torquay, Devon: for sale

In Devon also is the Municipal Chambers building, which we added to the register in 2019.  It is for sale through agents, Bettesworth.  In our original entry we described how this distinctive building stands in a prominent corner position opposite grade II listed Torbay Town Hall. It sweeps along the curve of Union Street and then comes to a dramatic halt in a circular tower at the corner of Castle Road. Known as the Municipal Chambers, the building is a late 19th century four-storey block and is noted as an important building in the Upton Conservation Area.

Click here for a link to the estate agent's sales particulars which mention a previous planning permission to convert the building to 121 bed apartments.

28 Portland Square and 2-8 Cave Street, Bristol

In Bristol, there is a clutch of interesting rescue stories.  These include the conversion of 28 Portland Square and adjoining 2-8 Cave Street to a hotel by bohemian boutique hotel group, Artist Residence. These handsome city centre buildings were added to the SAVE register in 2016. Work on the two sites has been on-going for several years. Their website states that the hotel is due to open later this year.  Click here for a link to the website where there are photos of the interiors and more details of the hotel. This looks set to be a sought after destination.

Former Engine House and Retort Houses, Gas Ferry Road, Bristol

Elsewhere in Bristol, the redevelopment of the Former Engine House and Retort Houses, Gas Ferry Road are complete. This is especially good news as the buildings had been on SAVE's register since 2007.  This redevelopment is now being marketed under the name Brandon Yard.  There are some very nice looking waterside apartments with the retention of these historic buildings clearly enhancing the whole quayside redevelopment and making it a place with character to live in and to visit.  See the developer's website for more details of units still available by clicking here.

Of the 19 entries we have in Bristol on the Buildings at Risk register, practically all have had some kind of positive news relating to them in the last year or so since we last updated them.  Why not browse all the entries in Bristol, the South West and the rest of the coutntry on the register to get the full picture?  If you are not yet a Friend and would like free access to the register for a limited period, please contact our Fundraising and Events Officer, Jo Wright