Masterplan for Cardiff city centre redevelopment revealed

March 7, 2013 3 Comments »
Architecture firm Hassell has been appointed design the development of the city centre, and the area looking southwards to Cardiff Bay.

Cardiff Council is set to reveal its vision for the redevelopment of the city centre, and the area looking southwards to Cardiff Bay.

A new masterplan proposing the expansion of the city centre southwards and the completion of Cardiff Bay is to be unveiled tomorrow.

Cardiff council will present its vision for growing the capital’s economy over the next 20 to 30 years to business leaders.

However, yourCardiff has obtained a leaked copy of the Labour-run authority’s draft green paper, entitled Rebuilding Momentum.

The report proposes high density Scandinavian-style living, more public squares and a light rail transport system connecting the city centre and Bay.

It also confirms previously reported ambitions, such as a convention centre and indoor arena, more high spec office space and an integrated transport hub.

There is no new detail, however, on the cost of the schemes, how they would be funded or any indication of the timescale in which they could be delivered.

In his foreword, Councillor Russell Goodway, cabinet member for finance, says it is over a decade since the last major investment was secured and the city’s performance has dipped as a consequence.

The former council leader says “some deep-rooted problems persist”, adding: “Cardiff needs to deliver a step-change in economic performance.

“The need to reinvigorate the city’s ambition and to position the city for its next phase of development is now long overdue.

“However, a vision alone is not enough. We need to identify the projects and initiatives that will deliver the city’s ambition and ensure they translate into jobs and opportunities for the people that need them.”

Key infrastructure projects, the paper says, will “stimulate and shape the next phase of Cardiff’s growth”. These include:

Public space

The pedestrianisation of St Mary Street could be extended south under the railway line and Callaghan Square which will also undergo “comprehensive reconfiguration”.

New public squares are suggested for north and south of Cardiff Central station, as well as a “significant public square” next to the new Admiral HQ.

Mount Stuart Square is also proposed for reconfiguration as part of a refurbished Coal Exchange, while the public realm at Oval Basin could be extended to Atlantic Wharf.

Convention centre

County Hall – the council’s own HQ – is proposed as the site for a convention centre, primarily as it could also accommodate an indoor arena.

As reported in January, the paper confirms other potential sites under consideration are Callaghan Square, Brains brewery and the Red Dragon Centre.

Indoor arena

The arena – previously reported to have a capacity of up to 11,000 people – will provide “easy access to top-tier entertainment”.

If built separately from the convention centre, the arena could boost the Bay’s leisure offer or anchor a new leisure destination, for example at the Brains brewery site.

New housing

The masterplan sets out a new form of “modern high-density urban living” prevalent in Scandinavian cities.

It says there is room for 6,000 new houses through the regeneration of the Dumballs Road area, expansion of Atlantic Wharf and the creation of a “two-sided street in Lloyd George Avenue”.

Grade A office district 

The areas north and south of Cardiff Central station, Callaghan Square, Capital Quarter, Roath Basin and Cardiff Waterside are identified for new office space.

Land at the rear of St David’s shopping centre could be “freed up” by the new indoor arena development, it says. The report does not name the Motorpoint Arena but says the land – referred to as St David’s Square – is adjacent to insurance firm Admiral’s new HQ.

Integrated transport hub

The hub would provide “one enhanced and joined-up station facility instead of separate facilities for buses and trains”.

The intention, the paper says, is to remodel the area around Cardiff Central and make provision for a new Light Rapid Transit system as part of the proposed “Cardiff Metro”.

The Labour administration recently admitted it won’t deliver its election promise to deliver a new bus station by the polls in 2017 and was instead focusing on the hub idea.

City-Bay link

A new Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system linking the city centre to the Bay will “enable the expansion of the city centre southwards towards the Bay and the Bay northwards towards the city centre”.

There is no detail about the type of technology to be used or the specific route, but the paper says connections to other areas in the city centre, such as Queen Street station, and further expansion north need to be considered.

The green paper goes on to describe how the masterplan will manage the development of a new “district” that “will fill the gap” between the city centre and Bay.

This includes the creation of an “Atlantic Quarter” which, it says, will be a new mixed-use, leisure-led destination and the “key development in the south”.

Plaid Cymru councillor Neil McEvoy, a former cabinet member for economic development, said: “I have no idea why it was marked ‘strictly confidential’, there was nothing new in it.

“It just seems like a frustrated ex-wannabe Westminster politician indulging in a bit of fantasy ministerial politics.

“The paper itself is trite and needlessly bitter about the last two administrations. Instead of criticising the past, where is the vision for the future?”

The paper is open for a six-week public consultation from Friday. Views can be submitted from Friday here.

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  1. Steven Boxall March 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    I note that Scandinavian type living is mentioned. Will most residents have a second home in the country, or on the coast, as most Scandinaians do to make their high densities work?

  2. Tom M March 7, 2013 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Cardiff doesn't need a light rail link from the central area to the bay, it already has a regular rail shuttle.

    What Cardiff needs is better public transport to the outlying areas – some kind of rail provision should be considered to reduce journey times from areas which are currently only served by slow buses, this could use the existing rail infrastructure along the main line, and provide services to Newport Road retail park, Splott, Trowbridge and St Mellons (for example) – plus new dedicated lines to other areas (e.g. Pentwyn, Pontprennau) where there is space to run services.

  3. Huw T March 8, 2013 at 12:38 am - Reply

    Incredibly short-sighted view once again from Cardiff County Council. When will they realise that Penarth, Barry, Dinas, Wenvoe and Sully are symbiotically entwined with the city? Hell, in a few years to come it will be all one city! So why not plan for it now? The rail system must be useful to only about 5% of residents. Cardiff Bus are only interested in profiteering. And the roads leading into and around Cardiff are so inadequate that the city is choking. This is all today. Not tomorrow when all the redevelopment and expansion brings even more people and businesses to the city. High density living my eye! A load of apartments bought by investers at an inflated price which they pass on as high rent to young people until they conclude that the budget squeeze isn't worth living in a soul-less box after all. Leaving the invester no option but to use as social housing to recoup their investment. So they knock all the social houses down, build new urban style living apartments, 5 years later the same people that were in the social houses now inhabit the new urban apartments. Either that or the investers leave the apartments empty to cash in on a sale value at a later date and a 'ghost building' is born. Altolusso anyone? The Aspect?

    I lived in Sydney in 2001, for just £12 I could buy (from any newsagent) a weekly ticket that would give me unlimited travel on rail, bus or ferry for seven days across an area about 225 square miles, Needless to say the taxi business was practically non-existent. How big is Cardiff? 36 square miles? If that?

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