A multi-million-pound vision to transform Cardiff into one of the UK’s powerhouse financial cities can be revealed.
Cardiff council and the Assembly Government today announce they will commit a combined £60m to create a new Central Business District (CBD) in the heart of the city.
The development will create four million square foot of office space and rise up on land stretching some 140 acres from the bus station, past Callaghan Square and into Cardiff Bay.
The bus station will be replaced by an “integrated transport hub” within the next two years, while there will also be major improvements around the railway station to create a new “gateway to Wales”.
The authority is also set to invite developers to come forward with proposals about delivering a convention centre.
The Millennium Plaza and Cardiff Arms Park, either side of the Millennium Stadium, are possible locations.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, Callaghan Square – already home to firms such as Eversheds and ING Direct – will be overhauled to create a public square and new road layout.
Council officials hope creating “first-class” transport facilities and a convention centre will attract blue-chip corporations to relocate to Cardiff.
Talks have already opened with major national firms about moving into the Welsh capital; however, the council yesterday refused to reveal any names.
Listen to Sion Barry and David James discussing the Central Business District idea
In the second phase over the medium-term, new office space would be built along the River Taff at Dumballs Road and into the Bay.
Early negotiations with landowners have also begun on refurbishing or demolishing existing buildings and assembling parcels of land.
Artists impressions released last night show how huge high-rise office blocks could be built on land at Wood Street, Havelock Street and lower St Mary Street.
The images also show what the replacement bus station could potentially look like, as well as a new public realm linking the northern entrance to the railway station to Wood Street.
However, the council last night stressed the artists’ impressions were only concept images and any development could be radically different.
The Assembly Government yesterday committed £17m to the project, with a further £1m promised for each of the next four years.
Cardiff council will commit the remaining funds.
The £60m in funding is expected to attract a further £100m of overall investment in the city through public and private investment.
Today’s announcement is the result of two months of lobbying by council leader Rodney Berman, deputy leader Neil McEvoy and council chief executive Jon House.
Councillor Berman said: “We are saying that Cardiff means business – that we have ambition and vision for the city.
“The Central Business District will drive Cardiff forward in future years.”
Mr House added: “Our intention is about the need to attract jobs into the city centre and to do that as part of a city region approach. If we create jobs it will benefit the whole region.
“We are the closest capital city to London and we believe we can attract blue chip corporations to base their headquarters in Cardiff.”
Coun McEvoy said: “This is a great day for our capital city.”
The Cardiff Business Partnership, which represents some of the city’s biggest employers, welcomed the announcement.
CBP chairman Adrian Clark, of Legal & General, said: “Such an investment provides long-term aspirations and careers for young people who want to stay in Wales and build a progressive economy.
“We cannot afford to stand still.
“Cardiff means business – we have ambition and vision for the city and the Central Business District will drive Cardiff forward in future years.”
What do you think about the plans? Do you think it will work? What would you like to see happen in the area? Let us know your views in the comments below