Cardiff Council Plans for Coal Exchange Renovation
Cardiff Council has unveiled rescue plans to transform the Coal Exchange into a business hub just weeks after the Coal Exchange was suddenly closed over safety fears. Cardiff Council has revealed it is considering acquiring the iconic 127-year-old building so that one of Wales' most important buildings could be brought into public ownership and transformed into a centre for business innovation under new plans to save it from dereliction.
If the council is able to secure the building’s freehold, it hopes to attract private and public sector investment to fund the redevelopment, believed to be worth £25m to £40m. A 1,300-seat banqueting hall, restored exchange hall, public square, office space and “innovation centre” are proposed in the Labour administration’s vision. It wants the Coal Exchange, once the headquarters of the coal industry, to be a “new home for business and enterprise in Cardiff” and spearhead the wider redevelopment of Mount Stuart Square in Butetown.
Councillor Russell Goodway, cabinet member for economy, unveiled an investment prospectus – entitled Time for the Coal Exchange – at Thursday’s full council meeting. The document says the building’s future is at risk and, unless the authority acts immediately, “dereliction seems inevitable”. The council’s vision includes:
- Office space for start-up businesses and SMEs, as well as inward investors
- An open plan structure enclosed by three of the existing restored facades
- A 1,300-seat banqueting hall for events to be built above the existing structure, offering views of the city and Bay
- A public space outside the southern entrance, replacing a concrete car park
- Fully restoring the exchange hall and opening it to the public for the first time
- Using the hall as a networking hub for businesses to meet and exchange ideas
- A new Cardiff Business Innovation Centre supporting firms and education institutions
- Restoration of the original timber and stonework features, plus the creation of a glass atrium inside the north elevation
- Parking below ground by excavating between and around the existing foundations
The 140,000sq ft building, owned by developers Macob Exchange Ltd, was closed in May after a prohibition order was served over fire safety concerns. Macob has planning permission for a £20m scheme to turn it into apartments, restaurants and office space, but the plans have never gone ahead.