One of the most famous buildings in Cardiff is to remain shut for years. This is what's going on

City Hall in Cardiff, viewed from lawns
Work has been ongoing since October -Credit:Copyright Unknown

Cardiff's historic City Hall will cost up to £69m to restore to modern standards, it has been revealed. The building has been closed since October last year and is not set to fully reopen for another two years.

Council officials are working to draw up a plan to fund the refurbishment the imposing 1906 building needs, which until now has housed event facilities, office space for council functions and meetings rooms for councillors. They are considering a range of options from a "do minimum" cost of £29m to the full cost of £69m to deal with the full maintenance backlog and create modern office space.

The Edwardian building, which was opened by Lord Bute and contains marble floors and statues of famous figures from Welsh history, has been used to host weddings, conferences and major events. But it was closed in October 2023 after the problems with the heating, electrics and asbestos worsened.

A report prepared for councillors said that the original hope had been to reopen the building by May this year but the scale of the challenge that had become apparent meant that the work to update the heating system and remove asbestos would not be completed until the end of 2025 and that the building will not reopen until early 2026.

The papers show that officials are working towards a strategy based on a "do minimum programme of works" with a budget of around £30m over seven years. It would focus on only essential work to replace the historic, failing heating system and resolve issues with asbestos and electrical problems. However this will not create modern office space and the building will remain largely as it is now.

A council spokesperson said that the authority hoped to be in a position to reopen the south wing of the building in phases commencing in autumn 2025, with additional parts of that wing following in early 2026.

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The council's cabinet will meet on Thursday, May 23 to consider recommendations in a report, which include considerations on how City Hall will be used in the long term. For the latest Cardiff news, sign up to our newsletter here.

Councillor Russell Goodway, cabinet member for investment and development, said: "The Council is committed to addressing the significant maintenance issues associated with City Hall in order to secure its future as an important civic space. We have put £5.3 million of funding in place for phase one of the maintenance programme, which is underway with preparations for the new heating system and associated work on the building's mechanicals and electricals.

"By exploring opportunities for suitable and appropriate organisations to use the building, we can minimise the Council's financial liability, while at the same time ensuring that City Hall remains fit for purpose as a civic building and a heritage venue of historical significance, both now and for future generations."

A full copy of the report is available to read here. On the delays, a council spokesperson said: "The Council had expected to be able to re-open parts of the building between April and October 2024, before all the works were completed, as the heating system is not used during these months.

"However, further inspections have shown that more invasive work will be required to meet the requirements associated with the building's Grade I listed status. This includes the removal of asbestos from service ducts to install the new heating system. The removal of asbestos will need to take place over the summer meaning the building can no longer be opened during these months."