The Coal Exchange is an iconic building in Cardiff. It was where the first £1m cheque was written, and its spectacular exterior made it the architectural envy of the Welsh capital.
However, on the inside it was crumbling after years of rot and a lack of outside investment. Signature Living purchased the building in April 2016 with the intention of turning it into a 200-room hotel. It would be a sensitive restoration, retaining original features.
But some influential local figures weren’t happy.
Labour MP Stephen Doughty expressed his concerns, as did the Cardiff Civic Society and the campaign group Save the Coal Exchange. Signature Living was well known in Liverpool for its restoration projects, but in South Wales there was nowhere near the same level of brand recognition.
The campaign had to engage deeply with local communities. Instead of ignoring the negative voices, we engaged with them and listened to their concerns. In addition, senior figures from the company met members of the city council, the Welsh Assembly and the local media.
The campaign’s central message was that in order to best preserve the future of the building, it needed to be commercially viable. To that end, the Exchange Hotel is the new home of the Butetown History and Arts Centre – an organisation that faced closure after failing to secure public funding.
The launch of the first phase of the development secured not only coverage on BBC TV and ITV, but also saw the attendance of more than 300 infuential local people over two events on one day.
A poll on WalesOnline, the area’s most-read publication, showed that public support had reached a remarkable 88% by the time of the opening.
Legacie’s successful story of constructing modern residential developments, as well as the sensitive restorations of historic buildings, has been communicated to the people that matter by DHPR. .
A successful partnership with ION has seen DHPR help strengthen partnerships with key stakeholders in the private and public sector and share news about the company’s projects to the media. .