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Boost for Cardiff Bay as Atlantic Wharf masterplan revealed

A new masterplan for Atlantic Wharf, which sets out how 30 acres of land

A new masterplan for Atlantic Wharf, which sets out how 30 acres of land will be redeveloped to help transform Cardiff Bay into a top-tier UK visitor attraction, has been revealed

Cardiff Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve the draft plan on Thursday, December 17. If agreed a detailed consultation with the local community and local businesses will begin to ensure their views are heard.

The new masterplan sets out a number of possible projects on a site which stretches from Cardiff’s County Hall to the Red Dragon Centre across to Lloyd George Avenue and down to the Flourish where Bute Place meets the Millennium Centre and Roald Dahl Plass, including:

A 15,000-capacity indoor arena;
Replacing the Red Dragon Centre with a new mixed-use development including leisure and hospitality provision;
A new ‘This is Wales’ fly-through visitor attraction;
new cultural buildings adjacent to the Wales Millennium Centre
A new 10,000 sq ft public square and event space with free children’s attraction;
Up to 1,150 new homes;
A new 150-bedroom, four-star hotel;
150,000 sq ft of office space;
Consolidating the current dispersed car parking into a new multi-storey car park.
The masterplan aims to be delivered Net Carbon Zero and could take up to 7 years to deliver in four phases. The new indoor arena, which will be built first, will act as the anchor development, providing a catalyst for investment in the area around it.

Leader of Cardiff Council: Cllr Huw Thomas, said: “For successful cities, regeneration isn’t a single event, it’s an ongoing process. The redevelopment of Cardiff Bay three decades ago helped establish Cardiff as a dynamic European Capital, and today we set out an exciting vision for the next stage in that redevelopment. 

“One of the criticisms of Cardiff Bay’s past redevelopment was that it isolated and excluded the local community in Butetown. I’m determined that that must not happen again. We don’t just want to re-energise the area we want to re-energise the local community. This masterplan sets out a range of projects which we believe can deliver jobs, training and prosperity to a local community that is still one of the most deprived in Wales. The next step will involve an extensive consultation to ensure what we take forward can be for the benefit of everyone – To benefit Cardiff, to benefit Cardiff businesses, to benefit residents and most importantly to benefit the people of Butetown.

Cabinet Member for Investment and Development, Cllr Russell Goodway, said: “This council took the decision in the 1980s to kick-start the redevelopment of Cardiff Bay by building a new County Hall. This helped lead to the delivery of the Cardiff Bay Barrage project, the iconic Wales Millennium Centre and the Richard Rogers designed Senedd building.

“Now we want to begin the next-phase regeneration of the Bay area. The delivery of the new 15,000-capacity arena will be a game changer for the city. It will create much-needed jobs in the local area, with fast-track training in place for the local community, both during the build and when the new urban centre is built.

“It has taken many years to get to where we are now, but this development will ensure Cardiff will be able to bring events and conferences to the city that we are not able to do now and in doing so help us to compete with cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool.

“We believe this new development could have the same positive impact on Cardiff Bay that the St David’s 2 Development had in the city centre. The re-development will create a vibrant place that is welcoming and attractive to visitors and residents, as well as providing 1,150 new homes in Butetown.

“We have also set ourselves the target of creating this new urban centre totally carbon neutral, with heating provided to the new indoor arena through Cardiff’s new District Heat Network.”

The new masterplan will tie in with planned improvements to the railway network as part of the Welsh Government-led METRO project, and will see improved cycling and walking routes on Lloyd George Avenue and across the Bay.

The masterplan has been developed to be flexible so it is able to adapt to market forces during the development period. A decision hasn’t been reached on the current County Hall building but the masterplan is flexible enough to deliver a new County Hall or include a refurbishment to the existing building.

The four phases of the project are:

Phase 1:The new Indoor arena will be built first. It will deliver an increase in footfall that will underpin the investment case for other sectors to invest into the area, such as retail, leisure and culture.

The current Travelodge hotel on Hemingway Road will be relocated into a new extended hotel as part of the arena development. The plan is for a new multi-storey car park to be built next on the Red Dragon centre’s car park, which will then free up the remaining land for re-development and a new public spaces.

Phase 2:The Red Dragon Centre will then be replaced with a new purpose-built development, with modern, upgraded facilities. This will include a new leisure offer, which would see current businesses relocated and new food and beverage units added. There are also plans for a ‘This is Wales’ virtual reality fly-through visitor attraction.

Under the current proposals, the new Red Dragon Centre could also have 150 residential units above the leisure units. Once the Red Dragon Centre has been relocated into a new building, a new 10,000 sq ft event space and public square will be built, which will include 300 new trees, as well as a free, children’s play attraction.

Phase 3:Based on market interest, a new 150,000 m2office space could be delivered along with a new 150-bed, 4 star hotel, which will be built in front of the new event space. Both phase 2 and 3 of the masterplan will only be able to proceed, once the multi-storey car park is built in phase 1, freeing up land for redevelopment.

Phase 4:If the Council decides it is more prudent to build a new a County Hall than to refurbish the existing building, then a residential-led development could deliver 600 new homes on the current County Hall site facing Bute East Dock. This could also house retail, food and beverage opportunities and potentially office space in a mixed complex of apartment blocks.

Fronting Lloyd George Avenue, in the location of the current Odeon cinema, the proposal is to build a further mixed-use development which could provide a further 300 new homes, with the possibility to accommodate other uses such as office space and possibly a further hotel.

The Cultural District:The land available for the cultural district would become available after phase 2. Subject to funding, proposals include a new Production Studio and a major new museum of modern art adjacent to the Wales Millennium Centre.

Transport Hub:It is proposed that a new transport hub and interchange is built on the Pierhead Street site to accommodate any new tram-train and bus services. The proposal also includes a new pedestrian bridge across the A4232 to provide a link between the new event space and the transport hub.

Lloyd George Avenue:Proposals could see the road redesigned with one lane of traffic in either direction. As part of the Welsh Government led METRO project, a new landscaped walkway connecting the city centre with the Bay could be created, with opportunities for limited development at key intersections along the route. The Flourish will also be redesigned to reduce traffic flow in the area, improving the facilities to walk between the inner harbour and Atlantic Wharf.

If Cardiff Council’s Cabinet approve the project a public consultation will be organised and delivered and the process of submitting an Outline Planning Application for the masterplan will begin.

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