Plans to turn a recognisable Cardiff building into a block of flats with a sizeable extension have been approved after more than a year of waiting. Baltic House in Butetown is a vacant Grade II-listed six-storey Edwardian building most recently used as an office block.

The conversion of the building had been approved subject to the signing of an agreement in January 2023 but weas only formally approved in April 2024. A planning application was originally submitted in 2021 for the change of use of the building from offices to residential accommodation.

After several amendments the application sought to extend the building's roof by one storey and build a six-storey standalone building to the south – the James Street side – with a central courtyard. This would turn it into a block of flats comprising 55 units with 39 one-bedroom, 14 two-bedroom, and two three-bedroom properties. Of these 28 would be in the existing Baltic House block and 27 in the new block.

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The façade as seen from James Street, next to the former site of the My City, My Shirt mural, would be completely changed by the new building while the front, facing onto the Coal Exchange Hotel, would be unchanged except for the roof extension. For the latest Cardiff news sign up to our newsletter here.

In January 2023 it was recommended that planning permission be granted subject to the signing of a section 106 agreement, which would bind the developer to pay towards infrastructure and amenities in the local area. The planning officer's report said the proposal would bring a vacant listed building and derelict car park into "beneficial use with associated regeneration benefits" and the application was appropriate for the character of the area.

Wider angle exterior view of Baltic House including the pavement outside
The façade will remain generally the same but Baltic House will be redeveloped
Exterior 3D render of Baltic House with the extension at street level
This 3D render shows the original plans for Baltic House in 2021

More than a year later a section 106 agreement has been signed and planning permission was formally granted on April 9, 2024. Depending on whether the full project goes ahead, triggering obligations to pay owner Baltic House Development Cardiff developer RBL Partnership could pay up to £1,069,020.02 to the council including:

  • £886,182 towards affordable housing
  • £39,062 towards developing companies in the Butetown ward and provide employment opportunities (to combat the loss of office space)
  • £83,938 towards parks
  • £44,838 towards regeneration of community facilities
  • £15,000 towards improving bus stops

Concerns were raised when the plans were first submitted to the council with local residents and business owners questioning the impact that the development would have on surrounding buildings including the Coal Exchange. Amendments to the plans included changing the six-storey extension into a standalone block.

The side of the neighbouring Mischief's Café Bar building, facing into the car park that will become the Baltic House extension, was formerly home to the My City, My Shirt mural, produced along with the My Cymru, My Shirt mural in Quay Street for an Adidas campaign by Cardiff-based artists Unify Creative. The Butetown mural was controversially painted over in 2022 for a McDonald's advert but the fast food giant U-turned on the decision and the original artist was commissioned to repaint the mural on another building across the road.

Exterior view of Mischiefs cafe bar next to the Baltic House car park
The car park, which will become the new six-storey standalone building, faces directly onto the wall that was once home to a popular mural

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