Cardiff: Dangerous Raac concrete found in the ceiling of St David's Hall

Cardiff council said St David’s Hall has been through regular inspections for more than a year and that there has been no decline in the condition of Raac present at the venue. Credit: LDRS

Cardiff's famous theatre and music venue, St David's Hall, which could be set for a takeover, contains the notorious crumbly concrete known as Raac.

This comes after two Welsh schools have recently been told to close over concerns about dangerous concrete in their buildings.

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (Raac) is a lightweight form of concrete.

A Cardiff Council report from last year confirmed that the ceiling of St David’s Hall is made of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac), the usage of which has recently raised safety concerns.

However, the council said St David’s Hall has been through regular inspections for more than a year and that there has been no decline in the condition of Raac present at the venue.

St David's Hall is set to be taken over by nation-wide music venue operator, Academy Music Group (AMG).

The way that Raac is created makes it weaker than the normal building material.

The vulnerabilities of Raac has been known since the 1990s.

There is no coarse aggregate in Raac which makes it weak and dangerous.

But according to the Welsh government, it was only until 2020 that the local authorities in Wales were made aware of the potential issue with Raac.

A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: "St David’s Hall has been subject to thorough and regular inspections by specialists for over 18 months, and during that time the local authority has received reports that there has been no deterioration in the condition of Raac present at the venue, and it remains safe to operate as normal.

"Cardiff Council has implemented a building management and health and safety strategy, based on professional advice and government bulletins, to ensure the venue remains safe in the short term.

"Ahead of taking over the operation of St David’s Hall, AMG has also undertaken its own inspections and have plans in place to undertake the remedial work required in the medium to long-term."

Currently, the Cardiff Council is having to deal with a £24m budget gap and it is believed that the local authority could save up to £1m if decides to stop running the St David’s Hall.

A document relating to the potential takeover of St David’s Hall by AMG showed that the future operator of the music venue would be expected to take on a repairs bill of £38m.

A Cardiff Council spokesperson continued: “The inspection programme is prioritising school buildings constructed when this material was routinely used and will continue until all relevant buildings have been inspected, this programme is expected to be completed by the end of September.

“If we identify any suspected Raac, safety measures will be implemented and an Raac specialist consultant will undertake a detailed assessment to advise on remedial actions which might be required.

In some schools roofs are constructed using Raac planks, which are long slim blocks of the material.

“Since 2012, a multi-million school rebuilding programme has been undertaken in Cardiff, delivering brand new secondary and primary schools across the city, replacing buildings which have reached the end of operational life.

“This rebuilding programme continues, with more new builds recently completed or in the pipeline.

“For example, the new Fitzalan High School and Ysgol Groes Wen, both of which will open this week, and plans progressing for a new Willows High School in Splott, and an innovative shared campus in Fairwater, which will be home to three new-build schools.”

“With the school Raac inspection programme nearing completion, our inspection team is drawing up an inspection schedule for all other buildings owned by Cardiff Council, programmed on a priority basis.”

ITV Wales has approached AMG for a comment.

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