Viewers got to see one of Wales’ biggest homes on Channel 4’s Britain’s Most Expensive Homes this week.
Plas Glynllifon, which is located on the outskirts of Caernarfon in Gwynedd, is among the country’s most expensive homes. On the programme, which was aired on Wednesday evening, we got a glimpse into the three-storey mansion’s 102 opulent rooms. The grand neo-classical mansion is 110,000 square feet and includes a ballroom, library, six wine cellars, an orangery and its very own bat cave.
It was built in the early nineteenth century by Lord Newborough, whose estate had a profound influence over the landscapes and communities of Caernarfonshire for centuries.
In 1948, however, the Grade I listed building was sold to a timber merchant and in 1954 the house and park were sold to Caernarfonshire County Council. In 1969, Plas Glynllifon played host to the Prince of Wales Investiture Ball. But the mansion has been left empty for several years after a previous attempt to create a wedding venue failed. It was last on the open market two years ago with the asking price of £2million. The mansion has since turned into a state of disrepair.
Although the Grade I listing meant the building came with tighter planning controls, the show’s broker, Guy Bradshaw, saw potential in the national treasure.
“When you go in, you get that sense of waw!” he said. “The drive is absolutely fabulous, you have a dining room and entertainment rooms. It would be an ideal sort of wedding venue. This asset has the potential to be a business – income producing. The right person needs to be the custodian of this. Some areas are good, other parts need some refurbishments.”
London-based property developer, Kam Babaee, showed a lot of interest in buying the mansion, but was taken aback the potential challenge of refurbishing it.
Mr Babaee is real estate tycoon whose business specialises in renovating historical buildings. When visiting the mansion for the first time, the property developer said: “The legacy of these kind of properties are important. It looks like it needs a lot of work, which is very disappointing. It needs a lot of care and attention. If this was in London – money is no object, it would have the Royal Family living in it.
“It’s amazing how these beautiful places are left and nobody takes care of them. They need tender love and care, and a big fat cheque book. I have been involved with a couple of castles. I know how difficult it is and I’m not going in blind as a bat as they say. I know it’s a real big challenge to get these assets where I want them to be – to want to be involved in. It’s very easy to get it wrong and you overspend and lose money. This is going to cost a good £15 to £20 million to develop.”
At the end of the programme, Mr Babaee announced that he would make an offer but didn’t specify how much.
“I see a lot of potential headache and a lot of potential happiness afterwards,” he explained.
“It’s a very interesting property, lots of things that need a lot of work. The actual architecture of the building was beautiful for me. The layout of the staircase, the layout of the ballroom, the bedroom, the layout of the front lend themselves beautifully to what we would like to do with that building.
“I don’t think you’ll have much change with £20 million on developing the project to the standard that I want, which is a seven star retreat. Glynllifon is falling into a bad condition now, so the longer it is left, the worst it will become and the less valuable it will become and more work to be done. It’s not pocket money. There’s a lot of work – about £20 million on the expenditure on the property over the next three to four years. “
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