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Mansion Owner Admits Illegal Upgrades

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

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ABERGAVENNY, WALES—Installing a “mosaic-clad” bath, replacing cobblestone, and removing staircases are just a few of the tony upgrades that may send a Welsh developer to prison for a year, according to reports.

Kim Gregory Davies, 60, pleaded guilty Monday (April 27) to making more than 60 illegal alterations to modernize a historic manor protected under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act of 1990.

Abergavenny
Cornishstrongbitter / Wikimedia Commons / CC-SA BY 3.0

The millionaire developer said that he made alterations to modernize The Llanwenarth House, near Abergavenny, Wales (above).

He admitted to five charges relating to the unauthorized work in Newport Crown Court, according to BBC.com.

The Historic Manor

The millionaire developer said that he had made alterations to modernize The Llanwenarth House, near Abergavenny.

The seven-bedroom manor, built in 1532, became a Grade II-listed protected building in 1956 because of its national importance, according to reports.

Irish composer Cecil Alexander is believed to have written the lyrics to the famous hymn, “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” while staying at the manor in the Welsh countryside.

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Irish composer Cecil Alexander is believed to have written the lyrics to the famous hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful” while staying at the manor in the Welsh countryside.

As a protected property, the manor is under the authority of the Brecon Beacons National Park, and any changes are to be approved in writing.

Davies faces 12 months in prison or an unlimited fine in the case, according to The Guardian. He is scheduled for sentencing May 15.

Alterations Affecting the Character

He purchased the property in 2006 for £675,000 ($1.03 million USD) and put it on the market for £2.25 million ($3.4 million USD) four years later, reports note.

Authorities say that between June 2006 and August 2012, Davies spent over $1 million on updates to the Llanwenarth House and its detached coach house.

cobblestone
©iStock.com / Maxim Protsenko

Upgrades included replacing cobblestone with flagstone and converting a bedroom into a bathroom.

He was said to have carried out a variety of exterior and interior "modern" alterations that “affected the property’s character,” without first obtaining approval in writing from the National Park authority.

The alterations included:

  • Removing and installing windows and doors;
  • Installing a mosaic-clad whirlpool bath;
  • Installing ceiling spotlights;
  • Removing historic staircases, fireplaces and hearths;
  • Converting a bedroom into a bathroom; and
  • Replacing cobblestone with flagstones.

The alterations were described as “deliberate breaches” of planning law and the strict rules designed to protect listed buildings, according to prosecutors. They said Davies had been warned on many occasions as to the breaches.

The Daily Mail published several images of the restored home.

Restoring the Home

Davies had initially argued that the changes were within the law. However, he changed his plea Monday.

“My client accepts that he has got himself into a very difficult position by fighting this case,” his defense attorney told The Guardian.

“He now has accepted legal advice and has pleaded guilty to these offences and needs to do something positive to restore the house to the way it should be. He wants to put right what he has wrongly done to the house,” George Carter-Stephenson said.

Carter-Stephenson has proposed that Davies negotiate with the National Park authority to restore the features.

   

Tagged categories: Architectural history; Conservation; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Laws and litigation; Renovation

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