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Council criticised for plans to lease out historic former mayor’s residence

28 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Mansion House on Richmond Crescent, Cardiff will cost millions to refurbish according to a Cardiff Council official. Photo via Google

Ted Peskett

A council’s plan to lease out a historic building that was once used as the mayor’s residence but will cost millions of pounds to refurbish has been criticised

Cardiff Council said it plans to explore options for leasing Mansion House on Richmond Crescent out to third parties as part of its wider budget plan to save more than £30m across the local authority.

The building, built in the 1890s for department store founder James Howell, is currently used for functions and events, including those hosted by the lord mayor of the city.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Shimmin accused the proposed move by the council as another example of it “fobbing off” a piece of the city’s history to save money.

At a Cardiff Council economy and culture scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday, February 27, he said: “[It] shows to me that heritage isn’t safe under this council.”

In response, the council’s cabinet member for culture, parks and events, Councillor Jennifer Burke, said she disagreed with Cllr Shimmin’s comments.


She said: “The reason we have to consider some of the options [like Mansion House]… is because we don’t have the money to protect it ourselves.”

Cllr Burke went on to add that if the council can secure more money through a lease, the building could be protected for the future.

The council’s head of economic development, Neil Hanratty, said the site has a growing maintenance backlog and a bill “stretching into a couple of million, if not more, in terms of refurbishment”.

Two other members of the scrutiny committee, Councillors Rodney Berman and Jackie Jones, asked if the council had checked if the building had been gifted to the city and if it was protected under a trust.


The building was bought by the council in 1912 and another council officer said documents held by the local authority to date show there are no restrictions on the site.

However, Mr Hanratty added that the local authority would still double check if there are any legal agreements tied to the building before going to the market.

A range of other budget proposals for the 2024-25 financial year are going through a scrutiny process this week before being presented to council cabinet members on Thursday, February 29.

If the proposals are agreed by cabinet members, they will go to a vote at a full council meeting on Thursday, March 7.

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Lyn Thomas
Lyn Thomas
4 months ago

It would make an idea official residence for the First Minister,,,,

4 months ago
Reply to  Lyn Thomas

You could shove the entire Cabinet in there, and some of those SpAds and lobbyists they enjoy schmoozing with.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
4 months ago
Reply to  Lyn Thomas

Just as City Hall would have made an ideal home for the Senedd, but local politics, and especially one local politician got in the way of that, unfortunately.

4 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Yet another disgraceful episode in our recent history that’s been tucked away neatly under a carpet somewhere. Back in the 90’s the Bay was the big deal and as soon as any development was mooted it had to be shuffled in the direction of the waterfront. No wonder it’s known as Corruption Bay !

4 months ago

Lack of imagination, ideal conference or wedding venue, or even a youth and adult hostel, disability run non profit cafe

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