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4th October 2019

The plans for a new international sports village in Cardiff Bay

BY: Matt Discombe Local Democracy Reporter

A 10-year plan to transform Cardiff’s international sports village with hundreds of new appartments, bars, restaurants and leisure facilities have been unveiled.

Cardiff council plans to regenerate the area around Cardiff International Pool and the Viola ice arena over the next decade.

Proposals include a new indoor adventure sports centre on the vacant former site of Toys R Us, whilst on the waterfront there would be 10-storey apartment blocks with around 1,000 flats, and a new promenade featuring bars and restaurants.

Most of the area would be pedestrianised, removing Olympian Drive, and there would eventually be a new public square for events and a multi-storey car park.

Cardiff council has bought the Toys R Us site and intends to extend the former store to around 100 sq ft, creating a sports centre with possible attractions such as rock climbing, indoor skiing, skydiving and zip wires.

A 10,000 sq ft extension to the ice arena featuring new leisure facilities, potentially costing £3million, would also be built while extensions and new facades to the white water rafting centre and international pool are also mooted.

Previous plans for a snow dome in the area have been dropped.

The 10-year masterplan comes after years of uncertainty around the future direction of the area’s regeneration.

One councillor described the area as “a complete dog’s dinner” as large spaces on the peninsula are currently left bare and empty.  

Cllr Russell Goodway, cabinet member for investment and development, told a council meeting the regeneration of the area began in 1998. “I’ve got scars on my back to reflect how difficult it has been,” he told an Economy and Culture Scrutiny Committee on October 3.

“I’m hopeful we’re in a position where we can bring together not just land holdings but a commitment from various partners to deliver that leisure offer that was always the ambition for the peninsula in Cardiff Bay.”

The council hopes the first phase of the work – the new adventure centre at the Toys R Us site, the apartments and the pedestrianisation of the area – can be done within the first five years.

During the first phase, vehicles would park on land north of the Toys R Us site but it is hoped in the second phase of the development a multi-storey car park would be built, freeing up the area to be a new public square.

The public square would also be surrounded by new buildings for leisure uses.

The second phase of the work would take another five years.

Cardiff council would fund the pedestrianisation of the area- costing an estimated £3million.

But private investment would be sought to build the leisure facilities and the apartments which would mostly be priced on the open market.  

The total cost of the leisure investment in the first phase of the scheme is likely to be around £10million.

Much of the land on the peninsula is owned by the council but the ice arena and Cardiff Pointe are owned by Greenbank Partnerships. 

Cardiff council’s cabinet will be asked on October 10 to approve the new strategy, and to invite bids from developers to take on the first phase of the project.

If approved, formal planning applications for the project would be submitted next year.

Cllr Iona Gordon, the economy and culture committee, told the meeting she was concerned at the lack of green space and cycling in the plans.

She said: “We’ve got three amazing leisure destinations with the arena, pool and rafting centre. (But) the whole peninsula there is basically a complete dog’s dinner.”

Cllr Goodway said the council is “absolutely committed” to delivering pedestrian and cycling facilities at the site.

“I think people will be impressed with the amount of green space,” he said.

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