Current interior of Merchant Place, Cardiff Bay
Current interior of Merchant Place, Cardiff Bay

Grade II-listed buildings in ‘historic part of the city’ to be transformed into college

Two buildings in Butetown will be partly-demolished and replaced with a new structure behind the original facade

TWO historic buildings in Cardiff Bay which have laid empty for more than 20 years are set to be transformed into the new permanent home for Cardiff Sixth Form College.

The Victorian-era Merchant Place and Cory’s buildings on Bute Street will be modified by the construction of a new eight-storey building.

The front of the buildings on Bute Place and Bute Street will be maintained, while a large area at the rear of Merchant Place will be demolished to make room for the new development.

The new buildings will be used for teaching but also as accommodation for students who choose to board. An auditorium will also be included on the roof.

Cardiff Sixth Form College, currently on Newport Road, is a fee-paying school and has regularly topped the charts for the best A Level results in the UK. Students who started their A-Levels there in September 2022 pay £20,600 in tuition fees.

Cardiff Council’s planning committee approved the development on Thursday, February 2. Both buildings are Grade II-listed and were originally built in 1881 and 1889.

Speaking at a Cardiff Council planning committee meeting on Thursday, February 2, Principal Planning Officer Amanda Sutcliffe described the plans as a “beneficial and sensitive reuse of two Grade II listed buildings…. ensuring their survival”.

3D artist impression of the proposed development.
Artist’s impression of the new development (Credit: Expedite Design Services Ltd)

Planning committee member Councillor Michael Michael welcomed the application: “The architects have done an excellent job in trying to marry the old buildings with the new development.”

The Victorian Society submitted objections to the plans. Their concerns focus on an extension proposed to the site’s rear and its impact on the area.

Conservation Adviser Connor McNeill said the new building is taller than the original which will “lessen the prominence of the [existing] buildings and the domination they have on that historic part of the city.”

The Society also expressed concern over the level of regeneration happening in Cardiff Bay and Butetown.

“There has been a lot of development in Cardiff in recent years, but so much of the new architecture is not of very good design quality,” said McNeill.

“There’s wonderful architecture in Cardiff and it really needs to be celebrated and should be seen as one of the city’s greatest assets.”

The planning application and the listed building consent were unanimously approved by the planning committee. Plans for when the work will start is yet to be announced.