New attractions could help with council’s costs:
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.”
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St David’s Hall has a backlog of repairs