Cardiff Lord Mayor's mansion stay could help fund £24m repairs

Image source, Mansion House
Image caption,
Mansion House was used as the home of the Lord Mayor of Cardiff until 1971 and now hosts functions

Ever fancied lording it up like a city mayor for a few nights and enjoying the palatial opulence of the manor house?

Soon you could if radical plans in Cardiff are passed as councillors try to plug their £24m maintenance backlog of the city's landmark buildings.

Plans are being considered to turn the Lord Mayor's 120-year-old Grade II listed Mansion House residence into a boutique hotel.

Cardiff Castle could also host a Dr Who exhibition as part of the proposals.

Cardiff's 110-year-old Grade I listed City Hall could be turned into offices and conference facilities while there is "significant commercial interest" in the 150-year-old Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay, where author Roald Dahl worshipped with his family.

The city's New Theatre has undergone "essential maintenance" so "the building can remain open for the public" but councillors will hear it is "need of investment."

The Welsh capital's heritage buildings, which also includes the Old Library and St David's Hall, cost £2.6m a year to maintain but need an additional £24m to bring up to standard.

"These buildings are the jewels in Cardiff's crown," said councillor Russell Goodway.

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

Wales' largest council said in July that it will have to cut services and raise taxes because of a £91m shortfall in its budget.

Cardiff's cabinet will decide on Wednesday, 15 November whether "private-sector partnerships" can be used to "safeguard the future of the buildings".

Cardiff Castle

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Cardiff Castle has hosted pop concerts, sports celebration parades and a Nato meeting with 60 world leaders

The 11th Century castle and its Victorian gothic revival mansion is Cardiff's "most important and iconic historic assets" but despite recent significant investment, the council-run attraction "has a significant maintenance backlog".

Cardiff council says visitors do not cover upkeep costs and more attractions are needed to pay for the maintenance backlog.

New attractions are set for 2019, including a Dr Who Film Tours exhibition, but cabinet will be asked if officers can bring in lucrative attractions and ensure extra income goes into ongoing maintenance.

Cardiff City Hall

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Image caption,
The Cardiff council staff that still work at City Hall are set to move to a "new modern county hall"

Cardiff council says its home from 1906 is "outdated" and the mechanical and electrical systems in the building need "comprehensive investment".

The venue is used for weddings and conferences but any revenue is "far outweighed" by its operational costs so the council want to add commercial offices and conference facilities.

Norwegian Church

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Children's author Roald Dahl worshipped with his family at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay

The council claims the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay needs "significant investment" in both the building and surrounding area for the 150-year-old landmark to "reach its full commercial potential".

There is "significant commercial interest" in a church that was consecrated in 1868 as a Lutheran church which was a place of worship for Scandinavian sailors.

Cardiff's cabinet will be asked if officers could find a commercial tenant that would invest in the building, remove the maintenance backlog and ensure the council does not have subsidise the works.

Mansion House

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The former residence of Cardiff's Lord Mayor was originally built by former department store owner James Howell in 1896

The former home of Cardiff's Lord Mayor is a meeting venue that runs at a loss and requires "significant investment".

A council report highlights potential for the building in Roath to be turned into a boutique hotel as Cardiff council wants to find the "the most appropriate way to attract investment and reduce the financial liability while maintaining public access".

New Theatre and St David's Hall

Image source, Google/Geograph_Jaggery
Image caption,
The St David's Hall and New Theatre are two mainstays in Cardiff's arts scene

Cardiff's New Theatre has undergone maintenance so the 110-year-old building can stay open for the public" but councillors will hear it is "need of investment."

Its day-to-day operation currently requires a subsidy but Cardiff council wants to rent the building to a theatre company and reduce its grant.

Councillors will also be asked to potentially add retail units onto the ground floor of St David's Hall in The Hayes to increase footfall and help pay for repairs and refurbishment.

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