Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland could be moved from outside City Hall in future in order to stop the disruption caused by the installation of the popular ice rink and fairground.
Construction of this year’s Winter Wonderland began outside the City Hall today. The fair, which will once again feature an ice rink, two merry-go-rounds, a helter skelter, snow slide, children’s train and 60m “swinging seat” ride, is set to open to the public for six weeks on November 22.
But Cardiff council’s planning committee will discuss next week whether the attraction should move to a new location in future years, after the city’s Central Area Conservation Group expressed concern about the disruption caused by its set-up, and the length of time it takes to remove and repair the site in January.
The group has highlighted the physical impact of the Winter Wonderland on the setting of the civic centre, and the fact that a large piece of open space is lost for up to four months of the year.
The Cardiff council events team has permission to operate the Wonderland from the City Hall site up until 2013, but because of the concerns raised, the planning committee will discuss possible alternative sites at its meeting on Wednesday.
The three alternative sites under consideration are Cardiff Castle, Coopers Field, and Roald Dahl Plas in Cardiff Bay, although the events team maintain that the City Hall site is still the best option.
A report to the committee says Cardiff Castle would be an “excellent backdrop” for the Winter Wonderland, but it would cost an extra £60,000 because a crane would be needed to get all the equipment over the castle walls. There is also a concern that there would be less passing trade there than at the civic centre.
Coopers Field would offer the best location in terms of access for the building and running of the ice rink, according to the report. But it would mean that Sparks in the Park would have to be moved to a different venue, such as the Blackweir Sports Pitches, so construction could take place in early November. There are also concerns over reduced footfall, the cost of lighting the park through the night, and the security risks associated with having the park open through the Christmas period.
Roald Dahl Plas would offer “excellent facilities” in terms of power and a solid tarmac surface, meaning organisers would not have to repair a grassed area as they do now. But the oval basin in the Bay is not level, which would be an issue when constructing the ice rink, and the fact it is on the coast makes it more exposed to the elements.
The events team conclude: “Having taken all of the above information into account Cardiff Events team still believe that the best site for the centrepiece to Christmas in Cardiff is in the civic centre.”
The report adds that although the planning committee asked for construction work on the Winter Wonderland this be delayed until after Remembrance Sunday, the events team have said this would mean the work would not be finished in time. However, no work will be done until after 2pm on November 11, once the Remembrance Parade is finished.
The committee will discuss the report and options for the future on Wednesday.