North East Wales

Willows sold for £1 as affordable housing in Llangollen

The Willows, Llangollen
Image caption Present... A vew of the Willows since becoming empty in the 70s

Work is under way renovating a historic house which has been sold for £1 after standing empty for 30 years.

The grade II listed Willows was home to the servant of the so-called Ladies of Llangollen, well-known personalities in 18th Century high society.

Despite being a private home and bed and breakfast over the years, the three-storey Willows, off Hall Street, Llangollen, fell into disrepair.

Developers accquired the house after taking over another firm and "sold" the property for £1 to a housing association.

Castlesmead, Wrexham, made the gesture on the understanding they were commissioned to tackle the renovation project.

'Prominent position'

Now, they're giving students work experience in traditional or heritage-related building skills whilst helping turn the double fronted property with adjacent buildings into three self-contained apartments.

Image caption Past... an early photograph of the Willows, built in the mid 1800s

The work involves using stone masonary and lime wash plastering, techniques not routinely taught to students in the construction industry, according to Joe Donnell, Castlemead's development director.

The apartments will become rented accommodation as part of Denbighshire council's empty homes project, which is run in partnership with North Wales Housing Association.

The project is being paid for by different sources including a social housing grant from the Welsh Assembly Government, the Department of Environment, Sustainability & Housing, CADW and Denbighshire council.

Image caption Future... Plans showing the renovated property

Coun Rhys Hughes, who represents Llangollen, said: "The renovation of this building is important to the community in many ways.

"It provides good quality housing but also improves the visual amenity of the town as the Willows holds a prominent position."

It's hoped the first tenants will move into the building in February.

It's just a few minutes walks from Plas Newydd where the Ladies of Llangollen entertained the Duke of Wellington, Sir Walter Scott, Edmund Burke, and Wordsworth.

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