Friday, 20 November 2009

Renovate or Rebuild: What's better for Llandudno?


Whilst walking past the sorry remains of the Tudno Castle Hotel in Llandudno a few days ago, I got to thinking...what's better - renovating an existing Victorian building or rebuilding it to create an exact replica?

In an ideal world, of course, the question would not need to be asked - it would be renovation every time. However, the world in which we live dictates that a more pragmatic approach must be taken if anything is to be achieved. So, to a large extent, I believe the answer must depend upon the particular building and whether it has significant historical importance. In the case of the Tudno Castle Hotel, its contribution to the townscape is significant but only really in terms of its architecture. The plans mooted for the conversion of the building into a 70 bedroom Travelodge stalled because the Planning Authorities dictated that the building's façade must be retained and incorporated into the new development, a condition that would have added considerably to construction costs. By the time the plans were eventually approved, Travelodge had lost interest and pulled out of the deal.

As a result of the stalling, we are left with a derelict, eyesore building in the centre of town, when we could have had an £8m investment from Travelodge that would have created 35 new jobs. What if the Planning Authorities had instead said that the entire building can be demolished (after any significant architectural elements, such as the decorative iron porch, are removed for reuse in the new building) but the new building must be, externally, an exact copy of the old building? Personally, I would say that would be acceptable (and far preferable to the current situation) - what do you think?

4 comments:

Chris said...

I don't even think that when you say

"In an ideal world, of course, the question would not need to be asked - it would be renovation every time."

that this is so.

How else can any built environment ever progress?

Demolishing a fine building that has done fine service is NOT a heresy - it is the most natural thing in the world.

It's modern light airy hotels that attract people - not some building whose principal feature is to look old-fashioned and dated.

That's why the developers ran a mile and I don't blame them

There will always be exceptions, but that's what they should be - notable exceptions.

The leaning tower of Pisa, the Eifel tower, the Taj Mahal, and yes, the Llandudno promenade were all grotesquely out of keeping with their surroundings when they were built, but - wow! - we value them now.

But is the Castle Tudno really in that league? - I don't think so.

Councillor John Oddy said...

We must remember Llandudno is a “Victorian Town”, that is why a lot of people come here, they expect to see Victorian buildings, if we continue to knock them down and replace them with modern, light and airy hotels we loose the very thing that Llandudno is.
Once buildings like this go they will never, ever, be replaced. Renovation of these buildings is an art in itself, it is time consuming and expensive but the sense of achievement on completing it is enormous. The Milverton Hotel was one such project, that took months to complete but won the CADW Best Restored Building Award 00/01, beating Weatherspoons into second place.
It takes time, effort and money on these restoration projects but the end result is well worth it. The problem is the cost of maintenance of these buildings. I believe owners of listed buildings should receive annual allowances towards the building’s upkeep in order to stop them falling into disrepair.
As an example; look at the old Colwyn Bay Hotel as a building and then what it as been replaced by....... I rest my case.

Chris said...

CJO says

"if we continue to knock them down and replace them with modern, light and airy hotels we lose the very thing that Llandudno is."

..but the sad truth is that if we DON'T knock them down, they have to be capable of being maintained as either a viable business or as a costly monument.

In so many cases ( Pen Morfa, Pier Pavilion etc etc) this doesn't happen and it becomes a danger, an eyesore and we then "lose the very thing that Llandudno is" anyway even more than if we had had bitten the bullet and accepted the need for change.

Unless the public purse can fund either the renovation of an empty building or the attractive landscaping of the site instead, we have decay instead of evolution

Anonymous said...

REOVATION IS SURELY BETTER THAN DEMOLITION, THERE IS NOTHIG WRONG WITH VICTORIAN ARCHITECTURE IN A VICTORIA TOWN, DONT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE THAT CHESTER HAVE AND ALLOW MODERN ARCHITECTURE INTO CONSERVATION AREAS IT LOOKS STUPID AND TOTALLY OUT OF PLACE, THE VICTORIAN FACADES OF LLANDUDNO STREET SCENES ARE ITS STRENGTHS, BUILDING OWNERS SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED AND ASSISTED IN KEEPING THE TOWNS IMPORTANT HERITAGE INTACT AND IN GOOD REPAIR.

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