Cardiff Bay has changed a lot since this picture was taken back in 1913.

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And even since this aerial shot was taken (we think) sometime back in the 90s…

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…before the building of the Barrage (seen here during its construction) which was the catalyst for a £2 billion pound regeneration of the old docklands…

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…and the creation of the modern waterfront destination that is #CardiffBay today.

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But despite being home to venues like Wales Millennium Centre, the bars, cafes, restaurants and shops of Mermaid Quay the thrills and spills of Cardiff International White Water and much more, it still hasn’t reached its full potential for attracting visitors (and creating jobs).

So last week Cabinet reviewed a report that sets out progress on a wide range of existing projects (and some exciting new ones) to radically transform the area into one of the UK’s leading visitor and tourism destinations.

Some projects, like the new Cardiff Indoor Arena you’ve probably already heard about. But what you may not know is that the arena’s capacity has increased from 15,000 to 17,000. Construction remains on course to start this summer, which means if all goes to plan by early 2025, even more of you could be somewhere in this crowd, enjoying your favourite band.

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But maybe you’re wondering exactly how you’re going to get to Cardiff Bay to enjoy it?

So are we, because really that’s the key to our plans – and the report details some major upgrades to the transport network, including:

  • A Metro extension, including a new station north of Loudon Square and the potential for a transport hub at Pierhead St and connections to Cardiff’s proposed Crossrail project and the new Parkway station near St Mellons.
  • And safe walking/cycling routes from the city centre.

Where would these walking and cycling routes would go?

We’re thinking through a new urban park.

Here.

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Community engagement is set to take place in coming months, but the idea is to ‘green’ Lloyd George Avenue replacing the underused current dual carriageway road system with a standard single carriageway and introducing new landscaping.

And when you get off the tram or park your bike in the Bay, the plan is it won’t just be the new arena you’ll see, because the Red Dragon Centre on Atlantic Wharf will be replaced with a larger leisure complex – an outline business case for this is due to be completed in Spring.

So that’s culture, and leisure – what about sport?

Well, plans are progressing to expand the International Sports Village – adding a new velodrome and an outdoor moto-cross venue to the existing ice arena, international pool and white-water centre.

We think that’s all pretty exciting stuff – in the words of Cllr Goodway, Cabinet Member for Investment and Development, the plans will rejuvenate and ‘reignite’ Cardiff Bay – as well as creating more jobs and opportunities for people who live nearby.

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But that’s not even all of it – the report also included a number of ideas (which would need Government funding and private partnerships to progress) including:

  • A new lido-style pool at Mermaid Quay, close to Techniquest, that would enable outdoor swimming in a heated pool and access to ‘wild’ swimming in Cardiff Bay – maybe something a bit like this one in Denmark.

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  • The creation of an ‘academy-type’ cultural venue for performance arts linked to the Wales Millennium Centre.
  • A virtual-reality ‘flight over Wales’ experience, based on an existing attraction in Amsterdam.

 

And a 450,000sq ft event site and waterfront park at Alexandra Head, plus other family attractions and even an urban beach – after all, in the right light the Bay already has shades of L.A. (unless that’s just us California Dreamin’)

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But it’s definitely not all a dream – some of these schemes have already been proposed, but progress has been held up by the pandemic. We’re hopeful that those already in the planning stage will now move forward and potential schemes can be investigated further.

Many of the projects are interdependent, with the new arena playing a crucial role in unlocking private sector confidence and funds to develop future projects.

But we’re already busy establishing sites for the projects, acquiring land where necessary and discussing proposals from building companies, venue operators and bodies, such as Transport for Wales that are key to their success, and we’re also planning to bid for a share of the UK Government’s £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund and secure match-funding from the Welsh Government to help fund the regeneration.

You can get the full detail in the report here: https://cardiff.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s56587/Cabinet%2010%20March%202022%20Cardiff%20Bay%20regeneraton.pdf

There’s a lot to do. It won’t happen overnight, and some of these plans are at an early stage, but one thing’s for sure – we’ll keep working to create more jobs and opportunities for local people and to continue the transformation of the Bay into a UK-leading tourist destination.

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