Fury as historic Victorian terrace is bulldozed without permission

Fury as historic Victorian terrace is bulldozed without permission by property developers building 30-storey ‘monstrosity’ tower block in its place

  • Property developers demolished the historic crescent without planning consent
  • Cardiff Council has vowed to hold the developer to account for its decision 

Campaigners have reacted with fury to a property developer’s decision to demolish a historic Victorian terrace in Cardiff without permission – in its push to build a 30-storey ‘monstrosity’ in its place. 

GT Guildford Crescent Ltd, a subsidiary of construction giant Galliford Try, reduced the terrace of six 19th century buildings to rubble after council planners said the historic crescent should be saved. 

Council officials have now decried Galliford Try’s decision to knock down Cardiff’s Guildford Crescent as ‘completely unacceptable’ and vowed to ensure the property developer is ‘held to account’. 

The property giant, which is planning to build a block of 272 flats on the site, claimed the historic façade was ‘unsafe’ after knocking it down before Cardiff Council were given an opportunity to consider its request to demolish the terrace. 

Now, campaigners, who previously collected 20,000 signatures in support of saving the historic crescent, have hit out at Galliford Try in accusing the property developer of ‘brazen cultural vandalism’. 

Property developers have reduced a historic terrace in Cardiff to rubble without formal consent from the local authority

The historic terrace of six 19th century properties were demolished in a move described by Cardiff Council officials as ‘completely unacceptable’

Galliford Try is planning to build a tower block containing 272 flats on the site in Cardiff

The buildings were reduced to rubble amid a property developer’s plans to build a 30-storey tower block on the site

Galliford Try are planning to build a 30-storey tower on the site near Cardiff City Centre in Wales

Galliford Try’s decision to demolish the façade came after it submitted plans to Cardiff Council to knock the buildings down and then rebuild them. However, the devloper demolished the façade before the local authority approved those plans.

A Cardiff Council spokesperson explained that: ‘The developer has put in a Section 73 application to try to modify their planning permission. This proposes to ‘remove & rebuild’ the facade as part of the development. 

‘This is a live application. Before a decision was taken on the Section 73 application, they took it upon themselves to remove part of the facade without telling us and without permission.’

In 2019, campaigners, including Super Furry Animals’ singer Gruff Rhys, fought to save the 19th century façade that was left standing, after the restaurants and the beloved music venue Gwdihw that stood behind it were destroyed. 

The facades were left behind following an agreement struck in 2018 between developers, Cardiff Council, and the Rapport family who own the site, to keep the building frontages standing. The council approved these plans the same year.  

In November 2021, Galliford Try subsequently submitted an application to build a 30-storey tower on the site, containing 272 one-and-two-bedroom flats. 

But on August 17 2023, GT Guildford Crescent then submitted an application to Cardiff Council to demolish the historic facades, on the basis that they were no longer structurally safe. 

The developer then demolished the 19th century structures, before Cardiff Council had even had an opportunity to assess the application, as council officials accused GT Guildford Crescent of having ‘ignored’ the local authority’s instructions.

GT Guildford Crescent carried out the work even after the local authority told the developer that no work should be carried out without formal approval from the council’s planners. 

The developer later reduced the entire façade to rubble, in an act decried by Cardiff Councillor Sarah Merry as ‘absolutely dreadful.’  Cardiff Civic Society described the demolition as a ‘gross violation’

The historic crescent was demolished by Galliford Try as it pushes ahead with plans to build a 30-storey tower block on the site

The historic terrace previously housed restaurants and the beloved music venue Gwdihuw

The terrace has now been demolished in a move that has sparked fury among conservationists

Galliford Try submitted plans to build a 30-storey tower containing 272 one-and-two-bedroom flats in November 2021

Jo Stevens, MP for Cardiff Central, said: ‘I doubt I’m the only person who finds this deliberate and brazen cultural vandalism shameful but unsurprising.’

Music lover George Howard, 34, said: ‘It is shameful that a music venue like Gwdihuw was closed and now the lovely old buildings demolished to make way for this monstrosity.’ 

A Council spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The Council would like to make it clear that the removal of the façade 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 their 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 Building Control Surveyor from the Council has since visited the site and has confirmed the engineer’s assessment that the remainder of the terraced frontage must, regrettably, now be removed for safety reasons.

‘The Council has made it very clear to the developer on several occasions that no work should be undertaken on the façade unless and until formal approval was given on any proposed changes to the existing planning permission. 

‘It appears that this advice has been ignored, with the recent safety concerns resulting solely from their decision to commence development and introduce additional risk to operatives on site.

‘The matter will be reported to the Planning Committee on October 6th, 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 façade, along with any necessary action required to address the recent breach of planning.’

The developer submitted an application on August 17 2023 to demolish the historic facades but knocked the terrace down before Cardiff Council had assessed it

Cardiff Council officials branded Galliford Try’s decision to demolish the facades as completely unnaccaptable

Galliford Try claimed the façade had to be demolished due to immediate safety concerns 

A Galliford Try spokesperson said the façade had to be demolished due to immediate safety concerns.

The spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Following the commencement of preparatory works at the Guildford Crescent site, our structural engineers WSP attended site and indicated that the demolition of the façade was required for safety reasons. 

‘As a responsible contractor, we take health and safety seriously and took swift action to prevent any potential incident.

‘As has been previously stated, the façade will be recreated as part of the development to retain the historic character of the crescent and ensure the community benefits from the streetscape.’

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