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Plans to demolish Guildford Crescent put ‘on hold’

The owners of Guildford Crescent have agreed to postpone their plans for demolition following a meeting with Cardiff Council leader, Cllr Huw Thomas, to discuss a masterplan that the Council is developing for the area.

It is hoped that the new plan, aimed at regenerating a swathe of the city from Churchill Way down to Bute Terrace and across to the Admiral building at the back of the St David’s Centre, would see Guildford Crescent retained, enhanced and saved for future generations.

Cllr Thomas said: “Following a constructive meeting with the landowners they have now agreed to put their demolition plans on hold while consideration is given to development opportunities in the wider area.

“During our discussions I urged the landowners to reconsider their position regarding the termination of business leases held by the current tenants of Guildford Crescent while our talks continue. While the tenancy arrangements are out of the Council’s hands, we have re-emphasised the importance of these businesses to this area and their value to the identity of the city.

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“The Council is very aware of the public concern caused by the potential loss of the Madeira restaurant, The Thai House and the independent, music venue Gwdihw and we are actively working with Gwdihw to help them relocate in the city if the need arises.”

Cadw, which listed the Masonic Lodge on the Crescent in 1975, is currently undertaking an assessment to see if the rest of the buildings on the Crescent should be listed and the Council is awaiting the outcome of this exercise.

Cllr Thomas added:

“The creation of a conservation area is a completely distinct matter. That decision has to be taken based on the architectural or historical significance of the area, the character or appearance of which is desirable to preserve or enhance. We are continuing to investigate the viability of such an order.

“We are committed to the protection of this important character area of the city centre. We will now take time to evaluate all options, including a conservation area. The developer’s decision to put on hold the prior approval notice gives us the time and space to do so.”

Cardiff Council has released the following Q&A:

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Why not simply create a conservation area right now?

The Council is evaluating the results of the public consultation on whether or not Guildford Crescent should be designated as a conservation area due to historic interest and/or architectural merit, deserving of protection. It is also awaiting advice from Cadw in relation to whether any of the buildings should be listed

A conservation area designation would provide the planning authority with stronger safeguards against demolition and stronger control over any proposals to changes tobuildings within it. However, conservation areas do not provide a total guarantee against change and nor do they necessarily secure the long-term beneficial use of buildings.

Cabinet believe it is prudent to work with stakeholders in this part of the city on a shared masterplan, which results ultimately not just in the conservation of Guildford Crescent, but the enhancementof the buildings. We are committed to the protection of this important character area of the city centre, and will now take time to evaluate all options. The developer’s decision to put on hold the prior approval notice gives us the time and space to do so.

No. The Council is committed to protecting historical areas of the city centre. With the immediate threat of demolition removed, we have secured the time and space to explore how this can best be achieved. Creating a conservation area remains an option for the Council.

This is a matter for the landlord and the businesses. Given that the masterplanning exercise is anticipated to take three months, we would encourage the landlord to extend the leases for that period at least. However, the Council has no powers to enforce this. The Council has met with the owners of Gwdihw, and is actively working with them to identify possible new venues.