Lodge dreams in tatters after burglars wreck Llangollen building

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

THE man heading a scheme to turn a former hotel into an international community and learning centre says his dreams have been “turned to rubble” by a devastating burglary which has wrecked the building.

Pol Wong, a Shaolin monk and martial arts expert, has spent the past five years working with the Assembly Government on his dream to transform the disused River Lodge on the banks of the River Dee in Mill Street, Llangollen, into a venue for residential courses in all aspects of martial arts training.

He and the social enterprise organisation he represents, Powys Fadog, also plan to provide residential Welsh language courses and use the building as a base for guided historical tours and events.

He signed a lease agreement with the Assembly Government, which owns the property in 2009, and has so far spent £90,000 on feasibility studies.

But the building has been empty since 2007 while the government makes up its mind about the future of the project.

Mr Wong said despite on-site security patrols, it has been the target of at least four burglaries in the past few years.

In the latest raid intruders left a trail of destruction, with ceilings brought down and holes punched in walls apparently so thieves could strip out copper piping.

But what upset Mr Wong most the ransacking of the first-floor flat which he had used has his home and office.

His personal possessions along with private and business papers relating to the project have been removed from drawers and cupboards and strewn across the floor.

Mr Wong, who has been living with friends in Wrexham since moving our of River Lodge, said: “I heard about the latest burglary from a friend in Llangollen and came right over here. When I saw the damage I was absolutely gutted – this is my dream being turned to rubble.

“Although I am supposed to be working with the Assembly Government on this project they do not keep me informed about what is happening with it or the building.

“I am still very keen to go ahead with our scheme but I really cannot understand why I am being kept in the dark about what is going on.”

A spokesman for the Assembly Government said: “The break-in has been reported to the police and the buildings have been re-secured with 24-hour on-site security.”

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