Controversial demolition of historic façade in Cardiff set for approval

A picture showing scafolding and a crane at the Guildford Crescent site
-Credit: (Image: WalesOnline/ Rob Browne)

An application to allow the controversial demolition of historic building frontages on a Cardiff street is set for approval. The developer behind new apartments on Guildford Crescent applied to Cardiff Council in 2023 to knock down the facade of several buildings on the street, but went ahead and carried out the work shortly after without having obtained permission.

GT Guildford Crescent Limited applied to demolish what remained of the buildings, 1-6 Guildford Crescent, because it believed them to no longer be structurally safe. Cardiff Council said the move was in breach of planning rules and ordered the developer to cease all demolition works. The local authority also said at the time that it would consider further steps.

However, a planning report set to be discussed by the council's planning committee on Thursday, July 11, does not show any recommendation for formal enforcement action. In the report, the council argued that the most appropriate form of action that could be taken, requiring the developers to rebuild the facade, was something that was already being proposed in the current application. For more Cardiff news, sign up to our newsletter here.

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Residents fought for the survival of buildings on Guildford Crescent after plans to demolish them were put forward. A petition signed by 20,000 people called for a stop to the plans and about 1,000 people marched in the city centre to oppose it in 2019.

The buildings, which once included popular restaurants and bars like Gwdihw, were demolished that same year. Only the facade and front roof panes of the 19th Century buildings remained afterwards. When plans for the 30-storey tower block were given the go ahead in 2021, it was proposed that the facade of Guildford Crescent would be retained and the original pitched roofs would be reconstructed.

An application to amend the application to allow the demolition and re-building of the Guildford Crescent facade was lodged in August, 2023. Cardiff Council said it was told on September 5, 2023, that the facade had been demolished. Residents and local councillors have called for the developer to be held accountable for its actions.

Scaffolding and a crane at the Guildfrod Crescent site
Cardiff Council ordered developers to cease demolition works in September 2023 -Credit:WalesOnline/ Rob Browne
Scaffolding around the facade at Guildford Crescent
Scaffolding around the facade at Guildford Crescent -Credit:WalesOnline/Rob Browne

The council's planning report states: "As noted earlier in the report... in cases where unauthorised demolition has occurred, the only formal remedy to such a breach of planning control is through service of an Enforcement Notice requiring that the building is rebuilt. Any such Notice would need to include detailed plans / specifications, and a time limit by which time such actions must be undertaken.

"The developer has, however, demonstrated through this current application that they have every intention of rebuilding the terrace as part of their development, together with negotiated ‘uplift’ / enhancements – all of which are identified in detailed plans/ specifications, and would form part of conditions on a subsequent approval. Any formal action would, therefore, only be seeking to require them to implement on site the details contained within this current application – which Officers have already deemed acceptable above."

Cardiff Council's planning committee will meet to discuss the plans on Thursday at 10.30am. It can be viewed live on the council's website here.