Friday, July 28, 2006

The Current Situation.

The Current Situation

· Ruperra Castle, outbuildings and 17 acres of land around it were bought by a developer in 1998 while Ruperra Conservation Trust, formed in 1996, was fundraising for purchase and restoration. Emergency work was desperately needed, one tower having already fallen.

· For eight years no remedial steps have been taken by the current owner. The stable block accidentally burnt in 1998 is not repaired even though it housed a breeding colony of lesser horseshoe bats - a species protected by British and European law. It was said that a tree falling on to the generator house has caused damage to a maternity roost of greater horseshoe bats - only the fifth known in Wales. A hibernaculum of greater horseshoes bats has been found in the castle itself.

Ruperra was designated a conservation area in 1998 but trees have continued to be felled without the necessary notification.

New drainage channels have damaged archaeological remains in the grounds. No enforcement or remedial action has been commenced by the Local Authority.

In March 2000 Ruperra Conservation Trust, now owner of the 150 acre Coed Craig Ruperra, made enquiries of Caerphilly County Borough Council regarding compulsory purchase of the deteriorating castle. In July 2002 the owner submitted a planning application to the planning authority which being accepted as valid, prevented further CPO progress being made.

Cadw’s objections to the planning application highlighted the owner’s disregard for its recommendations worked out in consultations over a period of time. The intrusive design and layout of the enabling development, and the disrespect for the historic gardens and landscape setting were emphasised. ‘The beneficial effects of the conservation and re-use of the monument and associated buildings do not offset the extensive and obtrusive development proposed.’

Ruperra Conservation Trust’s objections to the planning application of 2002 note the lack of a structural report on the castle, a nature conservation report, design details for the listed building, an environmental impact assessment or a conservation design plan. The owner was been given more time to produce these. Up until June 2006, only a nature conservation plan had been commissioned. Deadlines have been given but not met.

Not For Sale. The site was put on the market in May 2005 but quickly withdrawn. The owner has said he will ‘never sell’. Meanwhile the Castle is deteriorating: no one lives on site to protect it. In June 2006 a full application was submitted, called the 'amended' application since there were some changes to the application of 2002.

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