Galliford Try under fire over demolition of 19th century facade

Cardiff Council has said Galliford Try will be “held to account” after kick-starting demolition of a much-loved building facade without planning consent.

The local authority branded the contractor’s decision to start removal of the colourful frontage of Guildford Crescent as “completely unacceptable”.

Earlier this summer, Galliford Try submitted plans for a 30-storey build-to-rent tower (pictured above) on a site that includes the facade of the 19th-century terraced homes.

Only the front elevation of the buildings once forming Guildford Crescent remained, following an earlier project on the site, and this was set to be demolished and rebuilt under the latest proposals.

Protests were held in 2019 against earlier plans to demolish the buildings.

However, Galliford Try subsidiary GT Guildford Crescent has now demolished part of the facade before a decision had been taken on the application.

A council spokesperson said: “The removal of the facade on Guildford Crescent by GT Guildford Crescent Limited, ahead of any formal decision being reached on their recent application, is completely unacceptable, and we will be exploring all possible avenues to ensure the developer is held to account for the breach of its planning consent.

“Following immediate investigations, the developer has since provided a structural engineer’s report that advises that the ‘wall was unsafe, presented a serious risk and should be demolished immediately in order to make the site safe and to prevent injury or harm to operatives on site, and members of the public’.”

A council surveyor has since confirmed that the rest of the frontage must be removed for safety reasons. But the local authority said it would still investigate the demolition.

“The matter will be reported to the planning committee on 6 October, where members will be advised of the status of the site and will need to consider the merits of the current proposal to rebuild the facade, along with any necessary action required to address the recent breach of planning,” its spokesperson said.

A Galliford Try spokesperson commented: “Following the commencement of preparatory works at the Guildford Crescent site that were in line with the previously agreed planning permission, concerns were immediately raised about the condition of the retained facade.

“Our structural engineers, WSP, attended on site to advise, and their report indicated the wall could be at risk of imminent collapse. As a responsible contractor, the only safe recourse was to expedite the demolition of the wall to make the site safe for both workers and the public.

“A subsequent visit by Cardiff Council’s Building Control officer concurred that the remainder of the wall was unsafe and should be removed.

“We have retained as many original features of the wall as was possible, and these will be incorporated in the recreation of the facade that will retain the character of the crescent, and ensure the community benefits from the streetscape.”

The contractor’s chief executive, Bill Hocking, said last month that build-to-rent was a “key area for growth” for the firm.

“The Guildford Crescent scheme is the first of a number of similar schemes we are taking on in this space and we look forward to creating fantastic new living spaces for the community in Cardiff alongside our partners,” he added at the time.

The facade at Guildford Crescent in Cardiff before Galliford Try began demolition

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