The Victorian Society is demanding sympathetic repair for Cardiff’s II* Coal Exchange, a landmark building that’s a symbol of the city’s boom years. James Hughes, the Society’s Conservation Adviser for Wales says:
“The Cardiff Coal Exchange is a hugely significant Grade II* listed building which should be central to Cardiff. We are very alarmed at the suggestion that partial demolition is being considered and that our attempts to discuss these plans with Cardiff’s Conservation Officer have not been successful. To date, we have seen no evidence that the building is about to collapse.
We urge the Council to carry out a thorough heritage assessment of this great building and work with all interested parties to restore it to its former glory. This is a building designed as a vibrant international commercial hub and we hope that it can regain that status in the 21st Century.”
At the same time campaigners have persuaded the government to accept an on-line petition, which is now available for signing (see link below). This urges the government to set up a public inquiry into events surrounding the Coal Exchange and ensure open public consultation on its future.
The Society claims that Cardiff Council has not produced evidence to verify its claim that the building is unsafe and unstable. It alleges that since mid 2013 when the structure was closed on grounds of safety and imminent collapse no remedial works seem to have been carried out to the actual structure other than fencing and boarding, although nearly a million pounds have been spent on advisers’ fees and site protection.
Cabinet papers from last month included a prospectus illustrating potential plans for the Coal Exchange, featuring a large glass domed extension above the existing roof. As yet no planning application for such plans has been submitted but the Victorian Society fears that alarmist structural reports are being used to prepare locals for unjustified substantial alterations to the building.
Costings by the Council’s advisers’ RVW for a “demolition scheme” and “retention of façades” have been obtained by local campaigners following a Freedom of Information request. The Victorian Society, which the Council is obliged to consult on proposals to demolish any part of a Victorian or Edwardian Building, has not been approached and has so far been unable to speak to the relevant conservation officer at the Council.
A petition to the Welsh Government is on-line at SAVE CARDIFF COAL EXCHANGE
The council’s documentation is at http://www.cardiff.gov.uk/objview.asp?object_id=27998 and http://www.cardiff.gov.uk/objview.asp?object_id=28301.
An information sheet for campaigners is at http://new.archaeologyuk.org/Content/downloads/2700_SAVE%20Cardiff%20Coal%20Exchange.pdf.