With the opening of high street shops and businesses this week, Mid Wales-based Hughes Architects has also opened its new practice offices in Welshpool, Powys, following investment in the building’s acquisition, remodelling and refurbishing of it.
The building design and planning consultancy practice, which also has offices in Newtown and Aberystwyth, has invested significantly in a fit-out and renovation of 18 Berriew Street in Welshpool’s town centre.
The office formally opened this week at the same time neighbouring retailers and businesses opened as part of the Welsh Government’s easing of coronavirus lockdown regulations.
“As a local business firmly rooted in the community it was important for us to maintain a town centre presence, as we do in Newtown and Aberystwyth,” said Doug Hughes, Principal Architect and Managing Director.
“We’ve continued to operate the business successfully, working remotely from our homes over recent months.
“But having purchased the property in Berriew Street and undertaken significant internal remodelling of the interior, we were keen to open it. It was pleasing to be able to do that this week when our neighbouring businesses and retailers have been able to open for the first time since March.”
He added: “We could locate our business out of town or in dedicated office space. But we have always believed as a business we need to be based and working within the community we serve. And having a town centre presence is important for that. It’s quite rare for such a business as ours, but we believe it’s important.”
The practice has introduced social distancing measures for its employees and visitors.
Hughes Architects had been based in Broad Street in the town for the past 11 years before investing in the Berriew Street property. It now has new architectural design studios and a conference room in the property.
The next phase of work will involve the exterior of the building. “Our priority was to get the practice and adjacent shop open. The building is Grade II listed and so we’ve worked closely with Powys County Council’s planning team on our designs. We will start to look at refurbishing the exterior in the coming months.”
During renovations at the building workers found 19th century graffiti when they removed some walls. It dated back to 28 April 1896.
“It was quite a find and transpired it had been inscribed by a local man called Grotius Alexandra James. He had inscribed his initials alongside dates.
As a result of publicity at the time one of his relatives came forward and said who it was. It’s great to have such a piece of history in the property. It is now pride of place in our conference room.”