An artist's impression of how the renovated building could look   - Img: Unknown - Please Contact
Plans to convert the Bute Street Station, a Grade II-listed railway station in Cardiff, into office and retail space have been given the green light by council planners, causing a furore among those who fear for the integrity of the historic building and/or object to the proposed aesthetic of the new renovation and extension.

A number of historical groups are leading the charge against the plans, citing fears that the renovation and four-storey extension could cause harm to the building, which was recently included in a list of the 10 most endangered buildings in England and Wales. Despite these objections the plans were approved, with councillors Frank Jacobsen and Chris Lay among those expressing their support.

Councillor Frank Jacobsen commented, “I’m glad to see that someone is taking an interest in this building. I’m glad to see someone throw money at the old lady. I hope they keep the characteristics of it. It looks good.”

The historic building as it stands now   - Img: WalesOnline
On the other side of the argument sits councillors Sean Driscoll and Ali Ahmed, with Driscoll comparing the design to a multi-storey carwash and Ahmed simply stating, “I’m absolutely not happy with the extension.”

Organisations including the Victorian Society and the Ancient Monuments Society share similar concerns, bringing formal objections before the council.

In a council report concerning the development, the Ancient Monuments Society described the design as “rather generic”, stating that it appears “incongruous and out of place” in the location. The Victorian Society went for a decidedly more full-on approach, with their lengthy formal objection, as detailed in the same report, reading as follows:

“We object to the application, which would cause a high degree of harm to the building and its setting, and because the quality of the application falls well short of what is required given the station’s II-listing and the potential impact of the proposals.

“The Bute Road Station is one of the oldest and most significant railway structures in Wales. It is one the society has long been concerned about and only last year was included on our list of the 10 most endangered buildings in England and Wales.

“We object to the proposed extension on a number of grounds. Firstly, it is too tall. We object also to its architectural treatment, which is aesthetically jarring, disappointingly banal and fails to convey any sense of responsiveness or sensitivity to the listed building and its setting.

“What is proposed is little more than a relatively mundane commercial block crudely tacked on to one of Wales’ most important historic railway structures. In purely technical terms the application is unacceptably poor.”

The proposed development shown in more detail   - Img: Tony King Architects Ltd
Despite the high volume of opposition to the planned works, approval was nonetheless given for two separate applications filed by ABA Holdings Ltd, one seeking listed building consent and another for full planning permission. A planning officer justified the decision by telling the committee that nothing of historical value remains inside the building, which is dilapidated to the point of floors collapsing and has been regularly occupied by squatters.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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