ONE of Helensburgh’s most celebrated architectural gems is set to be transformed into residential properties after lying abandoned for almost a decade.

The Category A-listed Cairndhu House, designed by renowned Scottish architect William Leiper, is the subject of a planning application by luxury housing firm Panacea Property, who also recently redeveloped another of Leiper’s creations, Braeholm, in East Montrose Street.

Panacea Property’s planning application to Argyll and Bute Council to develop a range of unique, luxury apartments at the site on Rhu Road Lower was submitted this week.

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Paul Traynor, director at Panacea, told the Advertiser: “The opportunity came up for Cairndhu and when we looked at it we thought it was a big job.

“Inside is absolutely beautiful and we were really excited by it.

“We took our time with it and made sure we thought it was a worthwhile project. It was quite an endeavour and it wasn’t something we just jumped into after taking on Braeholm.

“The building has not been used in more than five years and there are serious elements that need work, but we are looking forward to it.

“It’s early stages yet, work certainly won’t be starting in 2019, but the planning application is in and we are hopeful of further updates in 2020.

“We are currently in discussions with Argyll and Bute Council and Historic Environment Scotland, so that will determine how long it takes. We are doing small amounts of work to the building just now.”

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Constructed in 1871 for local flour miller and Lord Provost of Glasgow, John Ure, Cairndhu was requisitioned during the Second World War for use by the Royal Navy, but saw use as a hotel and a nursing home until its closure in 2010.

The baronial mansion, incorporating lavish Anglo-Japanese interiors, including a gold stencilled ceiling, stained glass windows and decorative stonework, all by famous Glasgow artist Daniel Cottier, has become an iconic feature of Helensburgh’s waterfront landscape.

Built in the style of a miniature French chateau, Cairndhu is widely considered as the pinnacle of Leiper’s Renaissance designs and received listed status in 1971.

Years of neglect, however, have left the building fabric and decorative features in urgent need of repair and conservation.

Much of Cairndhu’s richly decorated interiors remain substantially intact and Panacea says the new homes will be designed to incorporate the original spaces as much as possible.

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New build apartments are also included in the development proposals, which will be “sensitively designed into the landscape in a manner that will not disturb the building’s setting or character”.

A statement on the Panacea website added: “The project will involve considerable research and investigative work before any construction starts, to ensure that the unique qualities of Cairndhu House are appropriately preserved.

“Work on the preparation of detailed conservation proposals, exploring and describing significant features and how these will be protected and repaired where required is on-going in conjunction with Historic Environment Scotland and Argyll and Bute Council.”

Glasgow-born Leiper died in 1916 after spending the last 40 years of his life in Helensburgh.

He also designed the distinctive Venetian Gothic-style former Templeton Carpet Factory near Glasgow Green.

The B-listed Braeholm, a former maternity hospital and Royal Navy family centre, was converted into 12 bespoke apartments last year.