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Collapse fears at Newport’s fire-hit and vandalised listed building

The former Lawns Club in Newport (Pic: NCC)

A “PROMINENT” listed building in Newport is in danger of collapse and further vandalism unless its owner takes urgent action, the city council has warned.

The property at 11 Kensington Grove was formerly The Lawns Club, but is now “fire damaged and derelict” and has been vacant “for a significant period of time”.

Over the years vandals have struck at the site and plants have flourished in cracked walls – a situation that “compromises the integrity of the structure”, according to council planners.

A damaged wall at the former Lawns Club in Newport (Pic: NCC)

Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, considers the property “a good example of an Italianate villa” and is “supportive” of enforcement action to prevent further decay, the council said.

Members of the council’s planning committee have now agreed to serve an enforcement notice on the owner, including to cut and treat vegetation to prevent plants like ivy and buddleia “growing through the walls and pushing the masonry apart”.

Ivy on the walls at the former Lawns Club in Newport (Pic: NCC)

Loose stonework must be replaced “like for like” and the owner has to install roof scaffolding to prevent further deterioration due to water ingress and to allow the building to begin drying out”.

“Should no action be taken, this historic building is in danger of collapse and its loss to the historic character of the surrounding area and conservation area will be significant,” the city council warned in its report. 

“Action is therefore required to avoid a further decline to the structural fabric of the building and to prevent the loss of this grade II listed historic asset.”

Buddleia roots among the masonry at the former Lawns Club in Newport (Pic: NCC)

At a meeting of Newport Council’s planning committee, east area development manager Joanne Davidson said the property had been in a “very poor condition for over 20 years”.

The former Lawns Club has an “extensive planning and enforcement history”, she added.

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A 2001 request for planning permission was granted for the property’s conversion into two homes, with a further two houses built on the surrounding land.

A separate 2006 application for The Lawns Club’s demolition was refused – and in the years since a series of bids for the building’s restoration have all failed to earn planning permission.

If the urgent repairs are not carried out, responsibility for the work will default to the city council, which will then be allowed to pursue the recovery of costs from the owner.