Cardiff is to get its own “world class” wakeboard and water-ski park after plans were given the green light by councillors this afternoon.
The proposal from Cardiff Bay Wakeboarding to install a 735m cable-tow waterski system at East Bute Dock, off Atlantic Wharf in Butetown, has caused months of controversy since it was submitted to Cardiff Council in April 2012.
Hundreds of residents in the apartment complexes and houses around Atlantic Wharf lodged concerns about the park, including the amount of noise it would make, the effect on wildlife, the visual impact of the tow system, and increased traffic, parking and congestion problems.
But following months of negotiation to try and address residents’ fears – including changing the location of the system’s supporting pylons, and a promise to remove all the apparatus above the water in the off season from November to April – Cardiff Bay Wakeboarding was finally given the go-ahead today.
Addressing the planning committee prior to the vote, the firm’s operations director Gareth Stevenson said he believed the park would be a great addition to the Welsh capital.
He said: “The system is quiet, non-polluting, and low carbon. The pylons do not front [on to] Henke Court or any other buildings along the bank.
“Wakeboarding is one of the fastest growing watersports in the world – it’s an inclusive sport, and people continue with the sport throughout their lives.
“It has been shortlisted for the 2020 Olympics, and having a world class facility in Cardiff will enable us to train our athletes to the highest level. Cardiff is the 2014 [European[ Capital of Sport, and having an exciting sporting facility in the Bay will increase tourism and promote a healthy lifestyle.”
But Butetown councillor Ali Ahmed – who took leave of his position as a planning committee member for this application to speak on behalf of his ward – said that while he welcomed some of the alterations Cardiff Bay Wakeboarding had made to their plans, he was still concerned about the effect the attraction would have on car parking on Atlantic Wharf.
However, when it came to the vote, the plans were approved by six votes to three.
The tow system will work by dragging skiers and boarders along an elevated cable, supported by five pylons, around the dock.
The boat shed near the Wharf pub, which is currently used as a gym, will be turned into a reception, office, and equipment store, with a classroom and video presentation area, changing rooms, lockers and shower and toilet facilities.
The wakeboard park will also share a car park with The Wharf, with 18 parking spaces set aside for waterskiers and wakeboarders.
It will operate from late March to the end of October, and while opening hours will vary depending on the number of daylight hours, the longest days will see people able to ski from 9am until 8pm.
Committee member Councillor Adrian Robson said he thought the plans would result in a good regeneration of the disused dock, while Coun Lyn Hudson pointed out that the planning permission is limited to five years, so should any issues arise, its operation could be reconsidered at the end of this.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Stevenson said: “We’ve got a lot of work to do now. There are conditions attached to the planning permission that we need to address, and we will continue with our water quality assessments. We will be engaging with residents and the local councillor to ensure it’s something that will benefit everybody – both the community and the sports people in the area.”