Yesterday in the Senedd (16 February), Heledd Fychan MS spoke to support a petition calling for the Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport to ask Cadw officials to reconsider their view that the Old Girls School in Cowbridge shouldn’t be listed.
Below is the text of Heledd’s speech:
“Too much of our heritage has disappeared. Beautiful buildings across Wales have been left to rot, until inevitably, local planning authorities are told by developers they cannot be saved.
Whenever I travel into Cowbridge, I am always struck by the beauty of the buildings in question which are reminiscent of Coed y Lan school near my home in Pontypridd, which has also been left to dilapidate.
And clearly I am not alone in my appreciation of the building. On the website set up by the campaign group, there is a list of 20 prominent historic building specialists, historians and architects – all of whom support listing the building and sensitively converting it. These include Dr Eurwyn Williams, Former National Museum Historic Building Expert. Former Council Member of the Historic Building Council for Wales. Former Chairman of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.
Yet it seems that their views, and that of local residents, has been disregarded leading to Cadw refusing to list the building.
I understand all too well the need for affordable social housing in Cowbridge – a point made by the one letter I have received that supports the demolition of the building. But as illustrated in the tens of letters I’ve received in support of saving the building, it isn’t an either or and there is a way where we can achieve the best of both worlds – saving the building AND converting and repurposing it.
Save Britain’s Heritage – working with the architect Philip Tilbury – has produced an alternative scheme, showing ample space to create 23 apartments within the school as well as 12 new apartments and two new houses on the adjacent land.
I urge the Deputy Minister to ask her officials to look further into this matter, as well as the alternative plans put forward. Historic Scotland and Historic England both have procedures established when there are such disputes which allow for an independent external peer review in such circumstances – something which I believe is merited in this case.
This is an opportunity to reimagine a historic building to meet local need. I very much support the petition and thank all constituents that have contacted me on this matter.”
Further information about the campaign can be found here: https://oldgirlsschool.wales