By Zoe Kramer | Head of News
The controversial plans for the Museum of Military Medicine to relocate to Cardiff have been confirmed.
Despite 70 formal objections, plans to build a new five storey building in Britannia Park were approved. These objections were made largely on the grounds that Britannia Park is one of the few remaining green spaces in the area, and that the building would obstruct the waterfront as well as block light and views.
Director Jason Semmens had explored moving the museum to Lichfield, York, Southampton and Liverpool before considering Cardiff. Only after being approached by Cardiff Council was Cardiff Bay considered.
“The impetus for the most recent re-evaluation of the Museum’s future direction was the removal of the Defence Medical Services Training Centre (DMSTC) from Keogh Barracks to Whittington Barracks, Lichfield, in 2013, rendering the longer-term prospects of Keogh Barracks and its continuing medical connexion open to doubt,” said Semmens.
“Initially the museum trustees sought to follow DMSTC and relocate to Lichfield, in what would have been a combined facility with the Staffordshire regimental and Yeomanry museums, and also explored sites in York, Southampton and Liverpool.
“An approach by Cardiff Council in summer 2015 encouraged the trustees to consider the city as a possible new venue for the museum, and they voted unanimously to pursue that option in January 2016.”
Cardiff Council bought the land in 2018, to keep it from being used for the Dolffin Quay development, a proposed 24 storey block of flats which was favoured even less than the controversial museum.
Museum estimates show that the controversial Museum of Military Medicine is expected to be one of the top tourist attractions in Wales, second only to Cardiff Castle. They expect to attract 225,000 visitors every year by 2024.
A Cardiff council spokesperson said: “The current administration has set out its masterplan for Atlantic Wharf, which aims to see 30 acres of land re-developed, as we look to turn Cardiff Bay into a top-tier, UK-visitor attraction, delivering jobs and boosting the economy post the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The decision to make contact with the Military Medical Museum to relocate to Cardiff was made in 2015, by a previous administration, but it is important to make clear that it is common practice for any council to look to bring investment into its local area.
“Different sites have been proposed for this museum, and planning permission was actually secured for the museum on land close to Cardiff Bay train station, with only one objection received in the planning process. Due to the plans for the indoor arena, this site became unavailable and alternative sites in Cardiff Bay were then assessed.
“The council’s main priority is to ensure that any new development or visitor attraction fits in with our masterplan for Cardiff Bay and the re-development of Atlantic Wharf.
“The council does support the project, but it is important to make clear that the council will not be providing any direct funding for it. The reports that the council is paying to relocate the Lock Keeper’s Cottage, which will move around 40 metres away from where it is now, are simply wrong. Moving the cottage is part of the deal which secures a higher price for the land than what we could achieve if the cottage remained in situ.
“It is worth noting that the Lock Keeper’s Cottage and the playground are to be retained within the park, and it is our hope that the museum will deliver jobs and bring visitors to the capital helping to boost the local economy.”