Following the closure of the NatWest Bank in Ruthin in 2017, The Old Courthouse (a 600 year old Mediaeval Grade II* Listed building) has recently been purchased by Ruthin Town Council who’s aim is to create:
A Civic, Community and Visitor Hub in the heart of St Peter’s Square - to increase footfall and vibrancy in the town centre, and support existing attractions, businesses and community organisations, with a high quality, sustainable community and visitor facility that adds value to the Town Centre experience and delivers quality, innovation, and brings the community together in a cherished historic building and location that celebrates Ruthin’s unique sense of place.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!! Ruthin Town Council funded the purchase for £120,000 using reserves and a 15 year mortgage. We now need to raise approximately £100,000 through a combination of grants, sponsorship, donations, reserves and crowdfunding to finance its refurbishment and transformation into a Community focus and ensure it has a sustainable future.
YOUR SUPPORT - however small can make a huge difference, so please share our story, donate, join us as a founder with your name acknowledged for posterity or enjoy additional benefits as a founding sponsor through our range of Rewards packages.
We hope to encourage as many people across Wales, the UK and further afield who value strong communities and unique heritage to play their part in transforming this cherished and Nationally important building into an amazing focus for our community and town.
Noted as 'the most charming small town in Wales' by former National Trust Chair Simon Jenkins, Ruthin is celebrated for its heritage, arts & crafts and vibrant community culture. The Old Courthouse will enhance this as a central hub for the community and visitors, a place of excellence for welcome, discovery, interpretation and orientation through a mix of uses that will juxtapose old and new - it will surprise and inspire with heritage and history brought alive with contemporary arts, activities and creative culture. Partnering with celebrated local festivals, groups and organisations to host events in the intimate and unique setting of its Mediaeval Hall, participants will discover a vibrant bilingual culture where the experience of being there is what makes it so memorable, and unmistakably Welsh.
As part of RTC’s award winning Ruthin Future community place planning exercise and additional community consultations in 2018, 93% of local respondents were supportive of the Town Council’s proposals to purchase the building for the town, and through additional consultations, discussions with local groups and partners, have developed a business plan and proposals that can deliver a sustainable and vibrant future for the building through community use and engagement. At a recent open evening 250 local residents attended and through feedback forms were 100% supportive of the project.
AIMS & AMBITIONS
The Old Courthouse will provide accommodation for a number of uses relating to the three key community user groups - Civic use for the Town Council; meeting, exhibition and event space for the resident Community; Interpretation, orientation and information for visitors.
The building will be secured and refurbished to provide fit for purpose facilities in a cost effective and value for money manner.
The local community will develop a strong sense of ownership and support of the hub, and consider it a critical and worthy asset to the town and a valued contributor to the quality of life in Ruthin.
Customers, groups and hirers / users of the hub will feel valued, and believe the services and facilities are appropriate, good value for money and delivered in a professional manner.
The mixed-use and flexible nature of the spaces and events that will take place provides a unique platform for a diverse range of cultural activities drawn from all aspects of society.
The ambition to increase footfall and length of stay for people visiting the heart of Ruthin, combined with the role of retail space to showcase local producers, retailers and businesses; providing opportunities for training, work experience for young people and those out of work through volunteering and participation, and the creation of two part time employees will help support the local business community, employment and the local economy.
A volunteer group will support the efforts of the hub manager, helping the facility to operate economically, and also engender community buy-in, engagement and a sense of ownership. The volunteer Tidy Town Team will benefit from having a visible and convenient base to store equipment, gather and set off from for their monthly meets and clear-ups.
Activities will be held that help to encourage physical and mental well-being through participation and engagement - directed to include those from all social circumstances and sections of the community as well as those that might need more encouragement to get involved. Events targeted at a broad range of activities and interests, offering opportunities for participation and volunteer experience, all sectors of the community can be equally engaged with The Old Courthouse - for enjoyment, education and to enhance their skills and sense of engagement and value for our community.
The hub will operate on a sound financial footing supported by revenue funding from Ruthin Town Council and income generating uses. It will be well run and maintained for the benefit of existing and future generations, it will offer a diverse range of activities and facilities that support the efforts of other local groups and organisations, to provide services that are relevant to as broad a cross-section of the local community as possible.
THE REFURBISHMENT PROPOSALS
Uses suited to existing spaces - The business plan and uses have been developed in parallel with our design response to the building, so that we avoid trying to shoe horn in uses or activities that the existing building is not suited to. With this approach we believe we have been able to maximise the opportunities the existing building offers and develop a business plan that can deliver a sustainable and vibrant future for the property.
Change where only necessary - Minor layout changes are proposed to the existing lobby and w.c area on ground floor in order to provide a DDA compliant w.c and improved access between service areas. The existing w.c.s appear to be a later alteration to the original 1927 restoration and do not have any features of notable character.
Simplify and rationalise - The design approach quickly identified the need to undo some of the insensitive interventions that have crept into the building in the later half of the 20th century, primarily relating to the introduction of electrical and communications services required of a bank. Whilst the 1927 restoration provided a coherent and well designed reconstruction, the gradual introduction of layers and layers of additional cabling and services to the internal surfaces of the building have resulted in a jumble of cabling and equipment that is detrimental to the visual appearance and is also superfluous.
A Light Touch of modern design - The new uses will require some specific furniture and fitting elements not currently present. Our approach is to introduce theses as lightly as possible. Primarily as either free standing / loose elements that do not interfere with the fabric of the building; or as elements that only touch lightly and can easily be removed without impact.
This also allows us to introduce contemporary design in these elements that are sensitive to the existing building, but avoid pastiche or ‘mock’ features. This will include freestanding exhibition screens, historical exhibition displays, lighting and signage as well as a considered pallet of materials and colours for furniture & fittings that is of its time whilst respecting and showcasing the historic character of the building.
The main alteration is on Ground floor, where the existing Entrance lobby will be removed, and a larger lobby area created with access to two unisex w.c.s (1 DDA compliant). This provides a more accessible layout and allows a connection to be made to the service stair area (avoiding potential clashes if the main hall is in use).
Externally the elevations will remain the same - and works will be limited to any repairs, redecoration, and the installation of new signage and associated lighting.
Main Hall (former banking hall and originally the court) will be the focus of activity, offering a multipurpose space that can be configured for different uses with moveable displays, furniture and equipment. The first floor is split, with one side served by a fixed and fire protected staircase which extends from the basement - providing access to a small store room and the staff room with kitchenette.
The mezzanine office area has an open staircase from the main hall on ground, as well as a glazed privacy screen and balustrade overlooking the main hall. It would provide four hot desk workstations and a meeting table, available for start-ups and home workers to rent a space on an ad hoc basis.
The historical character of the building will be protected and enhanced - especially with the removal of unsightly service equipment. The open space provided with the removal of the former banking counter screen wall will allow the public to fully appreciate the scale and character of the main hall in a similar way to how it would have originally existed as a courthouse. With some access also to the office mezzanine, (shared workspace / small meetings) it will be possible to appreciate the hall from a viewpoint that has not been accessible in the last 80 years other than for bank staff.
Features that have been added since the 1927 restoration (mainly lighting, carpets etc) have been evaluated and whilst the majority are deemed detrimental to the character of the building, the two wrought iron chandeliers created we believe in the 1960’s by a local craftsman are worth retention, and will be better utilised with the installation of new LED bulbs that will allow them to work both as downward pendant lights, but also if required to provide an upward ceiling wash of light. This adjustment will allow other more insensitive light fittings to be removed.
The Old Courthouse project is an integrated part of Ruthin Town Councils Ruthin Future place planning initiative, which has identified projects that the community support and will benefit from. The proposals address key planning policies such as Respecting Distinctiveness, Building Sustainable Communities, Valuing our Environment, and Achieving Sustainable Accessibility. It is in line with recent National UK Government guidance by Retail Tsar Lord John Timpson on ideas to help town centres compete with online retail by diversifying uses and introducing experiences into the Town centre offer that encourages footfall and increased length of stay.
The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act 2015
An important piece of legislation relating to our plans for The Old Courthouse. By developing a vacant historical and locally valued building into a community space, a resource will be created in the heart of the town that can help to address a number of goals identified within the Act, and in improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales.
Prosperous Wales - The ambition to increase footfall and length of stay for people visiting the heart of Ruthin, combined with the role of retail space to showcase local producers, retailers and businesses will help reinforce the business community. Opportunities for training, work experience for young people and those out of work through volunteering and participation, the creation of two part time employees.
Resilient Wales - Re-purposing a 600 year old building, utilising sustainable local materials and developing a multi-use and flexible facility that can adapt to change.
Healthier Wales - Opportunities exist for events and activities which both educate and involve the community, helping to improve lifestyle choices and encourage physical and mental well-being through participation and engagement.
More Equal Wales - Events and activities will be directed to include those from all social circumstances, and to invite participation from sections of the community that might need more encouragement to get involved.
Cohesive Communities - a central community gathering and events space to be utilised by numerous groups. Central information point for groups, activities and public information.
Vibrant culture and thriving Welsh Language - The mixed-use and flexible nature of the spaces and events that will take place provides a unique platform for a diverse range of cultural activities drawn from all aspects of society. In particular RTC’s bilingual policy enshrines the use of Welsh in its operation, with full translation available of Council meetings and sub-committee meetings, and the management of the hub will seek to encourage users and other groups to adopt a bilingual approach to events staged within the Hub.
We hope you can support this exciting project. THANK YOU • DIOLCH
YR HEN LYS
I achub yr Hen Lys Canoloesol a chreu ffocws Cymuned, Ymweleyr a Dinesig bywiog yng nghanol Sgwâr San Pedr, Rhuthun.
Yn dilyn cau Banc NatWest yn Rhuthun, mae'r Hen Lys (a adeiladwyd yn 1401 a wedi'i restru Gradd 2) wedi dod yn wag ac ar gael i'w brynu - y tro cyntaf ers y 1930au. Mae'n un o adeiladau eiconig Rhuthun ac yng nghyd-destun sgwâr St Peter mae'n rhan hanfodol o leoliad sgwâr hanesyddol y Dref Frachnad.
Mae Cyngor Tref Rhuthun wedi bod yn awyddus i brynnu yr adeilad a'i ddatblygu er budd y dref.
Prif nod Cyngor Tref Rhuthun yw creu:
Canolfan Ddinesig, Cymunedol ac Ymwelwyr yng nghalon Sgwâr Sant Pedr, Rhuthun - i gynyddu troedfedd a bywiogrwydd yng nghanol y dref, a chefnogi atyniadau, busnesau a sefydliadau cymunedol sy'n bodoli eisoes, gyda chyfleuster cymunedol ac ymwelwyr cynaliadwy o ansawdd uchel sy'n ychwanegu gwerth i brofiad ymweld a chatol y Dref ac yn darparu ansawdd, arloesi a dathlu synnwyr unigryw lle Rhuthun.
Fel rhan o ymarfer cynllunio Dyfodol Rhuthun ac ymgynghoriadau cymunedol ychwanegol yn gynharach yn 2018, roedd ymatebwyr lleol dros 90% yn gefnogol i syniadau Cyngor y Dref i ddiogelu'r adeilad ar gyfer y dref, ac felly mae Cyngor Tref Rhuthun wedi llunio'r cynllun busnes hwn ac yn ceisio brynnu yr adeilad i ddatblygu canolbwynt dinesig, cymunedol ac ymwelwyr a all ddarparu elfen hanfodol o'r weledigaeth i greu Calon i'r Dref ar Sgwâr Sant Pedr.
Defnydd ac Amcanion:
Bydd yr Hen Lys yn darparu llety ar gyfer nifer o ddefnyddiau sy'n ymwneud â'r tri grŵp o defnyddiwr allweddol - Defnydd dinesig ar gyfer y Cyngor Tref, cyfarfod, arddangosfa a lle digwyddiadau ar gyfer y Gymuned a man dehongli a gwybodaeth i ymwelwyr.
• Bydd yr adeilad yn cael ei sicrhau a'i hadnewyddu i ddarparu cyfleusterau addas i'r diben mewn modd cost effeithiol a gwerth am arian.
• Bydd y canolbwynt yn gweithredu ar sail ariannol gadarn. Caiff ei rhedeg a'i gynnal yn dda er budd cenedlaethau'r presennol a'r dyfodol, bydd yn cynnig rhaglen amrywiol o weithgareddau a chyfleusterau sy'n cefnogi ymdrechion grwpiau a sefydliadau lleol eraill, i ddarparu gwasanaethau sy'n berthnasol i drawsdoriad mor eang o'r gymuned leol â phosib.
• Bydd y gymuned leol yn datblygu ymdeimlad cryf o berchnogaeth a chefnogaeth y ganolfan, ac yn ystyried ei fod yn ased hanfodol a theilwng i'r dref ac yn gyfrannwr gwerthfawr i ansawdd bywyd yn Rhuthun.
• Bydd y ganolfan yn darparu lleoliad a chyfleusterau croeso o ansawdd uchel i ymwelwyr â Rhuthun, a'u cynorthwyo i gyfeirio, dehongli a darganfod yr atyniadau lleol a'r hyn sydd gan y dref i'w gynnig.
• Bydd cwsmeriaid, grwpiau a llogi / defnyddwyr y Ganolfan yn teimlo eu bod yn cael eu gwerthfawrogi, ac yn credu bod y gwasanaethau a'r cyfleusterau yn briodol, yn werth da am arian ac yn cael eu darparu mewn ffordd broffesiynol.
• Bydd y ganolfan yn darparu cyfleuster sy'n addas i anghenion ei ddefnyddwyr allweddol a'r darged farchnad.
Bydd yr adeilad yn cael ei hadnewyddu i ddarparu cyfleusterau llawr gwaelod llawn hygyrch, gyda lleoedd ategol ail lawr, mezzanine a islawr. Yn dilyn y gwaith adeiladu, bydd yr eiddo yn darparu'r canlynol:
Y Brif Neuadd - Cyfarfod Aml-bwrpas a Lle Arddangosfa ac oriel, Siop Manwerthu Rhuthun,
Pwynt Gwybodaeth Cymunedol / Ymwelwyr
Toiledau a gwasanaethau
Llawr Cyntaf / Mezzanine
Swyddfa • Clerc y Dref a'r Dirprwy Brif Ddosbarth • Ystafell staff Islawr
Bydd Cyngor Tref Rhuthun yn berchen ac yn gweithredu'r ganolfan Yr Hen Lys. Bydd y prosiect yn creu dwy rôl ran-amser - Dirprwy Reolwr Tref / rheolwr Hub a Gofalwr, ynghyd â Chlerc y Dref, byddant yn cael cymorth gan dîm o Ffrindiau / gwirfoddolwyr mewn cysylltiad â'r Grŵp Twristiaeth lleol a sefydliadau eraill.