...quite rightly in my view. The way Macob have been allowed to derive income from the building while doing zero maintenance is a disgrace. They are clearly waiting for deterioration to allow demolition. Get them out of there.
I'm almost missing the Lib Dems given how deep in the pocket of Macob etc the Goodway clique is. Is there any chance of decent Labour councillors growing a backbone?
Agreed ash. To think that Macob picked it up for the cost of a modest detached house makes it all the more galling. This isone of the few buildings in Cardiff that has a history. I'm not usually for state intervention but I wouldn't cry if either wg or ccc cpo'd it. Why they didn't make this area of butetown a special economic zone is beyond me. This area has real character and whilst the layout of the buildings don't lend itself to large firms, it certainly goes lend itself to micro business. Imagine the juxtaposition of welsh industrial heritage and welsh digital/bio tech future
I hate seeing that stunning building in that state and not being used properly. As you've said Jantra it would lend itself superbly for a bunchof micro businesses. I really hope WG or CCC sort it out, it's such an important building.
I feel very sorry for the operators of the Hall (who are totally independent from Macob Exchange who are the owners). They are a good bunch of folks and this would appear to be a total showstopper for their business.
I guess we'll be going somewhere different for our Christmas party in work this year.
I think a government funded hub for life sciences/bio tech start ups would be a fantastic idea.
I work in medical devices and there are a tremendous number of start up companies each year, most of which end up getting swallowed up by one of the massive American companies like J&J.
There are quite a few barriers to overcome when setting up a company like this, such as the expense of clean room manufacture, and getting to grips with the regulatory requirements of bodies like the FDA - this will be far too much for many start ups to overcome.
If the Welsh Government set up a premesis with some office space, for various start up companies and provided a communal clean room for them to do some cottage industry style manufacturing in and maybe provide some regulatory support I think they would have start ups flocking here in droves.
The premesis would accrue rent from the start ups at a premium rate, but this would only be payable unless after a certain time, or when the business outgrows the start up hub they move their operation outside of Wales. If they set up somewhere in Wales they never have to pay it, but we get the benefits of some high skilled and some manufacturing jobs.
If there are any assembly members reading I'd happily run such a centre for a 5 figure salary
All that said, I just can't see the coal exchange ever being the right place for it. You'd have to completely rip out the insides and what would be the point when you could do the same in an industrial park near Merthyr for example for a fraction of the cost.
Perhaps from another thread, if Cardiff has such a respected university with regard to fashion, something similar could be done in the coal exchange with fashion? have some small manufacturing there and get local designers in, maybe sell them in a shop in town?
Coal Exchange building is currently being surrounded by a perimeter fence - with the consequential loss of street parking all around).
I'm waiting for Wile E. Coyote to appear with an Acme detonator on the street corner any moment now...
This is interesting! The Darkness announced their Permission To Land Tour today, which will take place at the end of 2013 and the tour dates say that the band will be playing a Cardiff gig at the Coal Exchange on the 17th of November!
Apparently the entire building has now been closed for all purposes on health and safety grounds. The council obtained the necessary legal order late on Wednesday night.
This is actualy GOOD news because it enables the council to survey the building and issue emergency repair notices. It could even open up the possibilty of the council ordering repairs and billing Macob.
I suspect the council maybe trying to force Macob into selling the place.
I thought i'd throw a few images on this thread: old days, not so old days, plans from a few years ago, plans from today:
I just don't see it happening. It's an old building that doesn't lend itself well to modern office space. If the council spent 20m on acquiring it and the same again on development, I doubt they could sell it on at a profit to the private sector. Therefore it would be a council held asset and a cash drain.
The best thing to do is to give it to a hotel chain. That's about the only thing it could be used for and even then that's not taking into account it's location.
We need to keep it as its a beautiful building - one of the few in Cardiff with real historic value, I can't see anything happening though unless a Texan oil mogul decides he needs a new folly
Another possibility is to turn into student accommodation/flats. But that would be awful.
Very little info in this story, but it seems talks between the council and Macob are starting to try and make something happen with the building.
I’m not sure if you have been made aware of this, but quietly unfolding under the noses of Cardiff residents is the impending demolition of the stunning core of the Grade 2 star Coal Exchange…………..Universally acknowledged as one of the finest buildings in Wales.
How can this happen……………????
The Council say it is on the point of collapse, and is beyond saving. They have obtained ‘reports’ to support their case.
They have apparently abused the Building Act and section 78 powers portraying the building as being on the point of collapse…….when there is no evidence to support this.
Council held documents show the extent of works planned under s78 powers, but they were partially stopped because they were rumbled…….but they still press on with the hidden agenda to gut this historic building rather than protect our nations heritage, and find a sustainable use.
Of course there will be divided views, but the humble owners of listed buildings across the UK have to abide the rules on protecting listed buildings, and it the responsibility of councils to uphold those standards, and not to bypass them when it suits their political aims.
Show some backbone, and stand up for what is right !
Concerned... where is the evidence for what you are saying? AFAIK and what has been announced are plans to refurb and restore the building, albeit demolishing a small part (the West wing?).
Ditto the above. Either you are months behind the news or a step ahead....
So the Coal Exchange has made Private Eye this month (as has St David's Hall as it happens)
Does anyone know what the latest is on this?
I'm amazed that a listed building and such an important part of the city and nation's heritage is in doubt in this way. It's crazy to even consider knocking it down.
Do you think that that article is that well researched? I'm not sure...
Ash - you weren't shouted down. Take a look further up.
Perhaps you are also posting under "concerned" where there was certainly a querying of what was said, but again not a shouting down.
AFAIK there was always going to be significant demolition of the interior, and one of the external facades. That has been known since the planning application back in 2007 or so. This was required in order to either create (a) modern office space or (b) apartments. The plan is to retain the main trading room, and the other 3 external facades.
Listed building status should be about retaining what is important about the building - not putting the whole damn thing in aspic. In this instance, it seems that the 3 good facades and the trading floor and associated balconies are the important parts. But all the offices, stoor rooms and corridors elsewhere don't have huge importance.
Now I'm less keen on some of the plans I've seen for some giant glass dome with a "banqueting hall", but they seem a bit pie-in-the-sky in any case.
Gettign this building back into beneficial use, and retaining the key elements of the historic building is what is important. We simply will not find a use for the building if it has to be fully retained - the condition of much of it has deteriorated substantially, and the room layouts are just not what's required today.
I had a walk around "Old Butetown" on the weekend, and it looks run-down and under-used. Gettign the Coal Exchange back in full use will help spur development in the other buildings around the square and on Bute and West Bute street.
Maybe I'm being hopelessly naive, but I don't follow why (in the Eye article) it is feared that any plans proposed to date would 'destroy Seward's interior'.
Why would they rip all that mahogany out and take away what is easily the best feature of the building? Strip that jewel away, and there really is next to nothing left other than the facade to bother to salvage. It's all wood chip wallpaper, cheap fire doors and carpet tiles in the office wing I'm afraid.
Sorry to destroy peoples ideas but it's not an oak pannelled, parquet floored, stained glass period mansion around here (outside of the Main Hall and its immediate side rooms that is - which are just like that!).
I certainly doubt that the Council have any sinister or devious plans up their sleeves. I think the main problem is more likely to be that they haven't got ANY (fundable) plans up their sleeve because they haven't got the cash to do anything - surely we are talking £30-£50 million as a ballpark project cost?
My main fear is nothing at all happening in the medium term, and a fire ripping through the main hall necessitating full scale demolition thereafter - that would be the worse case scenario.
After the 50s and 60s and 80s Cardiff doesn't have much of a link with its past. Mountstuart square is very old London Town and really should be the jewel in cardiffs crown.
The photo above is of the wing which still houses a number of businesses, including mine. The structure in this wing is sound. I have been in the basement and into the east wing recently with Mike and there is water ingress. To suggest that the entire structure is unsound is overstating the situation. Macob were forced to erect the barriers to protect passers by from falling masonry and tiles rather than building collapse.
Today a couple of contractors were on the roof of the east wing, utilising cement being mixed below on the street. I've seen the interior of the hall recently too and it seemed to be in good condition. I can't believe that any body would ever consider destroying this part of the building.
As to the plans to demolish the west facade, there is nothing wrong with it aesthetically. We've just ordered some new blinds so we need the interior of a facade to hang them from.
Wizard, i never made the point that it should be demolished but that it doesn't fit with the rest of the building. I think that in the absence of a plan to rebuild the facade in a similar style to the others it should be retained, as like is said there is nothing wrong with it that a good clean and some maintenance couldn't fix, and its not unattractive. I do agree that the internal structure could be demolished to create more useful spaces that bring the building into use, but again i feel the communal areas such as corridors should reflect the history of the building.
Overall i feel completely let down by the council for letting such a hugely significant building fall into such a poor condition by allowing the developer to first own it and then leave it to rot.
This is it in streetview
As apposed to the other side
Although I'm not sure if anyone noticed my question I'm pleased that the last few posts have answered it in a calm and considered way.
It amazes me that the building was ever sold to a developer rather than being owned by WAG/Cadw/National Trust in recognition of it's historical significance.
Macob have entered administration - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-26451690
I'm not sure if this is good news or bad?...
And the building is listed, so its importance is recognised in legislation. If the Council had spent tens of thousands of pounds just to get it 'stable', I'm sure there would have been many bad words said against them. Not from me, but here would have been.
Anyway, this MAY be an opportunity to sell it cheap??
On another note - we never mention those other stunning buildings a few streets away, although for the life of me I can't remember what they're called...something chambers? Again empty and derelict.
Where is the published information from this FoI request? The published report on the council's website talks of saving the hall. As I've said before, that part is worth saving - but much of the rest of the building is just outdated and would be better off comprehensively gutted and rebuilt.
More generally, mixed in with the sensible stuff her article and the comments show a lot of what I dislike about the Welsh chattering classes: a kind of holier-than-thou left-wing viewpoint which disdains the commercial and economically viable for more "authenticity", more "culture".. more public money, that is.
I agree its a shame that the buildings of "Old Butetown" remain under-used and rundown. And wouldn't it be lovely if they were bustling with life as hotels, offices and apartments (actually quite a lot have now been converted). But that takes commercial investment and the fact that investment isn't forthcoming, but there is investment into new-build offices tells you something: that in a city with relatively limited demand for space, the convenience of new-builds and the importance of "location, location, location" is paramount. Without demand for the space we simply cannot magic active use of this space.
Over decades, planning has contributed to this situation. But largely it was the result of poor public sector schemes rather than commercial schemes: the council estates of Butetown and south of James St isolate the area from the popular waterfront area. Where privately-led development has been more damaging to urban structure has been the Atlantic Wharf leisure park - but as I've argued before, in the early-mid 1990s, accepting it was understandable given the slow rate of progress on redevelopment.
Article in the Guardian. All the usual suspects - Civic Society, Victorian Society, and a "Conservation engineer" who has an office across the road. My reading of this is, if you believe the public statements of the developer and council, the story is all a bit of hot air.
The developer has described the oak-pannelled main hall as "sacrosanct", and the council's documents talk about using this as some kind of function room and/or public space. If that is the case the iconic parts of the building are preserved.
From what I know of the rest of the building, most of it has long since been pretty dull office space with no real architectural merit, apart from certain facades.
I think what's going on here is typical reactionary objection. British destroyed a lot of good Victorian-era buildings in the 50s through 70s, in the name of progress and redevelopment (and at a time such buildings were very unfashionable). In reaction to that, many people hearing of redvelopment or part-demolition of old buildings thinks we're about to repeat the same mistake. Which can sometimes be the case.
But here (again believing the public statements of the interested parties), it seems like the main elements of historical interest are being kept, and redevelopment is being done so that a building which currently is economically unviable can have a viable future. Old buildings cost lots to maintain and you can only afford that via making the best use of them - which has not been the case in the Coal Exchange for decades. Who will fund restoration and upkeep of the building on its existing layout? What will its subsequent use be? In today's straightened times we cannot afford such a grand folly.
Either the Civic Society etc fear the plan is a more wholesale demolition, including of the trading hall - but if so, where is the evidence? Or they are engaged in the typical strategy followed by such pressure groups (e.g. the bridge into Bute park group; or Pontypridd Park group), which is to present a misleadign impression of what a development actually means ("they're knocking down the Coal exchange"; "they're building a dual carriage way across Bute Park"; "they're concreting over Ponty Park") so that they get wider attention and can get support from those who would probably approve of the development if they knew the proper details and proper context.
Because if its a choice of:
- let the Coal Exchange slowly crumble
- Spend vast amounts of public money to restore it "as is" and have a white elephant that has no viable use
- Allow partial demolition of one facade, internally reconfigure space, but keep the hall, balcony etc, and thus get a commercially viable scheme...
I'd bet, the vast majority of the people who choose the latter.
I think you're spot on. There is a real danger that vociferous opposition is going to score an own goal with this project.
Unless there are outright shameless lies being perpetrated by the Council with regard to their real plans, I cannot understand why there is so much hot air being let off by opponents to their vision. The building is in one hell of a state - with the exception of the hall - and even that gem could do with a great deal of (expensive) work on the roof to bring it back to its former glory.
It's as if everyone is talking through their **** about the state of the building. The Council could do worse than organise 'hard hat' guided tours for the opponents, so that they can see what the place is really like. Ironically the authorities have effectively put the kibosh on such a proposal by publicly stating that the building is unsafe, so are unlikely to have the balls to backtrack on the H&S front.
I fear that the project is such a money pit, that even if the Council get their way, they STILL won't be able to find the necessary funds to redevelop the place. It's not as if they are awash with cash at the moment, and judging by almost all reputable forecasts, this financial situation is unlikely to change as further cuts to their budgets seep through over the coming half a decade.
What seems so confusing to me is why isn't the council and developers being a lot more open about their plans, where are the renders, the floor layouts, everything we need to know. If its a case of retaining the external facades but the rear, reconfiguring internal rooms bar the main hall and balcony then why isn't this all in the public domain for such a publicly important building?
It appear someone is trying to establish a 'friends' group.
It's receiving some attention courtesy of the Victorian Society annual list of Britain's top ten endangered buildings. It isn't on the list yet, but is up for nomination!
Here is the link to the BBC news story today:
By all accounts, £80,000 has been spent erecting a wooden barricade around the Coal Exchange.
The finishing touches are being applied, including some fancy graphics giving the impression that progress is imminent, although most of us suspect that this is just window dressing.
Phrases along the lines of 'A Welsh icon looking for a future' have been plastered onto the wooden fence in fancy fonts.
Does anyone else get prompted to log in to the coal exchange when they open this thread?
I'm feeling a bit more optimistic about the Exchange.
While he achieved a lot for the city, Russell Goodway always had a blind spot when it came to the importance or the arts and culture to Cardiff's economy. This could be seen in his opposition to the original opera house plans and the recent threats to the future of the New Theatre and Sain David's Hall. Regarding the latter, following the fall of the Goodway regime the council's position appears to have changed.
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