New at­trac­tions could help with coun­cil’s costs:

South Wales Echo - - News - MATT DISCOMBE Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter echo.news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

NEW at­trac­tions could be com­ing to Cardiff Cas­tle as part of coun­cil ef­forts to keep up with the costs of main­tain­ing some of the cap­i­tal’s most iconic build­ings.

The coun­cil wants to in­tro­duce two new at­trac­tions to the cas­tle by the sum­mer of 2019 – the Black Tower Tales, in part­ner­ship with Un­usual Expo, and the Doc­tor Who Film Tours and Ex­hi­bi­tion, in part­ner­ship with BBC World­wide.

Cardiff City Hall, an­other land­mark of the cap­i­tal, is also fea­tured in plans by the coun­cil to pro­tect the city’s her­itage build­ings.

The coun­cil is plan­ning to move all its staff to a new of­fice build­ing, so City Hall could in the fu­ture have more com­mer­cial uses such as of­fice and con­fer­ence space.

City Hall cur­rently hosts wed­dings and con­fer­ences, but this is “far out­weighed” by the com­mer­cial costs, the coun­cil has said.

The coun­cil says it wants to re­tain own­er­ship of City Hall, but is ex­plor­ing op­tions to pass the “long-term li­a­bil­ity” of the build­ing to a new oc­cu­pier.

The 110-year-old New Theatre could also be rented to a theatre com­pany to cover the costs of its main­te­nance, while The Man­sion House, the for­mer home of the Lord Mayor which is cur­rently run­ning at a loss, could be turned into a bou­tique ho­tel of 20 rooms.

St David’s Hall, which the coun­cil sub­sidises and has a back­log of re­pairs, could see its four ground­floor re­tail units opened up and in­cor­po­rated into the main build­ing – al­low­ing shop­pers to ac­cess the hall through the shopfronts.

The listed Old Li­brary in Cardiff is also run­ning at a deficit – so coun­cil of­fi­cers could be au­tho­rised to come up with a way of in­creas­ing its in­come.

A com­mer­cial ten­ant could also be sought for the Nor­we­gian Church in Cardiff Bay to in­vest in the build­ing.

Around £23m worth of ur­gent work is needed on th­ese build­ings over the next five years, the coun­cil says.

“Fail­ure to ad­dress this back­log will not only lead to in­creas­ing costs, but also in­crease the risk of health and safety in­ci­dents re­lat­ing to a lack of build­ing main­te­nance,” a coun­cil re­port says.

It would cost the coun­cil an ad­di­tional £1.2m a year – up to a to­tal of £3.5 m per year – if the cur­rent ar­range­ments for the her­itage build­ings re­main in place.

The re­port will go be­fore Cardiff coun­cil’s cab­i­net on Novem­ber 15.

The coun­cil re­port says: “Given the pres­sure on pub­lic re­sources, it is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly clear that if the coun­cil is to se­cure the fu­ture of its own his­toric as­sets, new ap­proaches need to be con­sid­ered in­volv­ing the pri­vate sec­tor.

“The coun­cil re­mains ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted to re­tain­ing own­er­ship of all of its her­itage as­sets. How­ever, sus­tain­able uses need to be iden­ti­fied that max­imise the her­itage value and char­ac­ter of the build­ings.

“Sim­ply us­ing th­ese build­ings for gen­eral pub­lic ser­vice use, or ‘busi­ness as usual’ is no longer a re­al­is­tic or sen­si­ble way to se­cure their longterm fu­ture.”

The re­port also con­firms work will shortly start on the aban­doned Bute Street Sta­tion build­ing and the Cory’s Build­ing/Mer­chant Place in Cardiff Bay.

Coun­cil­lor Rus­sell Good­way, cab­i­net mem­ber for in­vest­ment and de­vel­op­ment, said: “Th­ese build­ings are the jew­els in Cardiff’s crown.

“With lo­cal gov­ern­ment fi­nances crip­pled by austerity, we have to find new ways of se­cur­ing their long-term fu­tures.

“Work we have al­ready done with the pri­vate sec­tor has seen some of the city’s finest build­ings which were close to be­ing lost re­stored and re­vi­talised.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK? EMAIL ECLETTERS@ WALESON­LINE.CO.UK

ROB BROWNE

Cardiff Cas­tle

St David’s Hall has a back­log of re­pairs

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