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Plans to renovate historic chapel near Machynlleth approved

Capel Sammah at Cwm Llinau near Machynlleth (Pic: Google Streetview)

PLANS to renovate the inside of a historically important 19th century chapel near Machynlleth have been approved by Powys planners.

Earlier this year Dr Meredith Miller applied for listed building consent for work to take place inside the chapel itself and on the rear roof of Capel Sammah, Cwm Llinau.

The chapel which was originally built in 1819 is a Grade II * (Grade Two Star) listed building.

This means it is a particularly important building of special interest.

Slate tiles will replace the “modern as asbestos” composite roof and solar panels will be inserted “flush” to the surface.

Inside the chapel the proposal was for works to be done in the “set fawr” area of the chapel.

The scheme is to replace damaged joists beneath its raised floor, leaving the structure and original fittings intact, except for removal of the half-wall at the front of the “set fawr.”

The “set fawr” pews in a chapel are the raised seating area at the centre front  and is traditionally where the chapel elders and preacher would sit during services before ascending the pulpit to giver their sermon.

Dr Miller intends to preserve the building and to give it a new lease of life as a centre for Welsh-language literature and culture in the area.

This would also include preserving history of the chapel and its activities.

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A heritage statement said: “Community members who were part of the chapel’s congregation have been informed and consulted at each step of the restoration work so far.

“The proposed changes have been discussed with these community members, who have given advice on everything from the colour of the exterior front wall to the removal of the half-wall at the front of the set fawr.”

The work on the “set fawr” is urgently needed so that no damage or change will be made to the pulpit or pews there.

The statement added: “There is no denying that the removal of the half wall will be a significant change to the building’s interior.”

It is expected that the half wall will be “preserved” is a climate controlled environment at the cottage next door.

Powys council’s built heritage officer, Dr Sam Johnstone said: “Capel Sammah is a delightful chapel in burnt orange.

“The proportions of Capel Sammah are perfect, its mixture of vernacular, local materials and ambitious classical stucco make it a treat to behold.

“Aspect of the proposal will have some aesthetic implications, however, given the large communal benefit this is outweighed.

“In regard to the small amount of repair to the joists, the timbers used should be an exact match to the existing.”

Dr Johnston went on to recommend approving the proposal.

Planning officer Luke Woosnam said:  “Having carefully considered the details submitted together with all statutory consultee responses, it is considered that the proposal would be acceptable and complies with adopted planning policies.

“The decision is one of conditional consent.”