MONMOUTHSHIRE council will fork out more than £9,000 to carry out a protected species survey at one Wales’ most important country house mansions.

The council will employ a consultant to carry out the survey at the 17th century Troy House on the outskirts of Monmout. It was once home to the Dukes of Beaufort.

The Grade II-Listed building dates from 1680 but has not been used since the 1990’s when it was a privately-run special school. In the second half of the 20th century the property was at one time a convent and later owned-by the former Gwent County Council.

The building is owned by businessman Peter Carroll, who lodged a planning application with the council in 2008 to convert the building into 23 apartments, demolish the 20th century classroom block, a hostel building and a chapel with cloisters and build 31 new apartments.

However, the council has been unable consider the application without having additional information relating to ecology, the protected species survey which is required by law and flooding issues.

Mark Hand, head of planning, believes that progress needs to be made to avoid the loss of historically significant features, such as highly decorative building internal ceilings to some rooms which are already collapsing, found within the deteriorating building.

In his report, he said: "The most effective way of saving a listed building is to work with the owner, where they are not willing to take action, as is the case here."

In a decision taken Wednesday, council cabinet member Giles Howard authorised paying £9,665 for an external consultant to carry out the necessary surveys and reports that will help planning officers to make a decision on the redevelopment of the site.

It is understood that Mr Carroll is carrying out other necessary surveys and a viability assessment at his own expense.

The report adds that in the unlikely event that the approach fails, the council could compulsorily purchase the site but said this would be a last resort.

Mr Hand said that the long-term benefits in saving this ‘nationally significant building’, mean this expenditure is considered to be proper use of public monies.

A council spokesperson said: “Troy House is an important Listed Building on the outskirts of Monmouth.

“We are working with the property owner to progress a development proposal to restore the building and bring it back into residential use, with enabling development to secure this. "There are some matters to resolve before we can take the application to Planning Committee, including protected species surveys. We are working closely with Mr Carroll and his planning agent to resolve these issues.”

The cost will be fully met by existing budgets.

Mr Carroll’s agent Graham Frecknall Architecture and Design said he declined to comment on the matter.