The story of Cardiff Bay 1987-2000


Published by Cardiff Bay Development Corporation March 2000


ISBN 1 873100 02 7


Document also available in Welsh


1  Chairman’s Foreword

2  The Challenge of the Mission

3   Why Action Was Needed

4  Birth of the Corporation

5  The Regeneration Strategy

6  Design and Public Art

7  The Barrage and the Bay

8  Re-uniting the City

9  Business in the Bay

10  Moving to the Bay

11  Millennium Waterfront

12 Centre for the Performing Arts

13  Helping the Community

14  What’s Been Achieved

15  Securing the Future

16  Communications

17  Regeneration Strategy Statements

18  Board and Staff Members

19  Acknowlegements.






Sir Geoffrey Inkin

Chairman Cardiff Bay Development Corporation


I am delighted to provide the preface for this review of the work of Cardiff Bay Development Corporation.


When the then Welsh Secretary of State, Nicholas Edwards now Lord Crickhowell, announced the establishment of the corporation in December 1986, the mission was formidable. The management tasks to achieve this objective (which were defined internally soon afterwards from the initial detailed study) were no less testing.


This study considers objectively the modus operandi, the achievements, failures and challenges of the past 13 years. It describes the inherent and sensitive difficulty of the management of change and the balancing satisfaction of creativity. It will provide a detailed insight for students of urban regeneration and, for the general reader, a fascinating story of urban renaissance. A total public and private investment of around £1.6bn, in an area deprived of investment for more than 70 years, is the justification for that assertion.


The emphasis placed on the regional significance will be noted. Cardiff enjoys the inherent advantages of a capital city. Wales has the distinction of a separate geographical identity, now formalised by devolution. The regeneration of the Bay was required, a priori, to convey economic and social benefits far beyond the designated area. The Secretary of State also expected the corporation to achieve excellence and quality in its developments.


With integrated professional skills, adequate financial resources, a clearly focused task and, especially, political will, a development corporation was likely to achieve these formidable targets more quickly and effectively than a local authority, with the distraction of its other diverse and weighty responsibilities. The corporation, despite recent difficulty, is grateful for the support and involvement of the three local authorities for most of its life in the complex gestation and delivery of the project.


Modern infrastructure - above and below ground and in cyberspace - has been provided. The environment has been improved through reclamation, water impoundment creating extensive waterfronts, drainage schemes, landscaping and tree planting, among many other improvements. Employment opportunities for the widest range of skills and background have been generated (provision of the appropriate skills training was essential and effective.) Leisure and entertainment facilities have multiplied. Housebuilding has flourished, particularly of affordable and social housing. Community investment in small and large projects has enjoyed a high priority. Above all, there is a new sense of vitality and excitement.


The reader and visitor must be left to draw their own conclusions of success but, to form a judgment, the appalling condition of South Cardiff in 1986 must be appreciated. The illustrations in this report provide that comparison.


The investment momentum in all development sectors will continue after the wind-up of the corporation in March 2000. In the context of the 1987 directive for substantial progress to be achieved within 10years, I have no doubt that the internal management targets will be more than fully met within two or three years of our demise. Had the Barrage Bill not been seriously delayed by a prolonged parliamentary process, those targets almost certainly would have been met or exceeded by now.


I thank my colleagues in the local authorities, past and present members of the corporation’s board and, above all, the dedicated, loyal and exceptionally competent staff for their part in reversing the dereliction and decay of 70 years. By the corporation’s performance, I hope that some might think that we may have been even in danger of giving quangos a good name, through a dramatic demonstration of the economic and social realities of urban renaissance.




Cardiff is the capital and largest city in Wales, with a rising population of about 315,000. It is the hub of Welsh government, its higher education, and its commercial and cultural life. In April 1987, the Government established Cardiff Bay Development Corporation with an ambitious mission set by the Welsh Secretary of State:


". . . to put Cardiff on the international map as a superlative maritime city, which will stand comparison with any such city in the world, thereby enhancing the image and economic well-being of Cardiff and of Wales as a whole"


The corporation's task was to regenerate 1,092 hectares of the dockland area of South Cardiff, around a bay formed by the estuary of the Taff and Ely rivers. Much of the designated area, totalling a sixth of the Welsh capital, suffered from serious dereliction as a result of the long-term decline of its port and associated industries.


The corporation, in common with other urban development corporations, was conceived as a publicly-funded taskforce which would initiate projects to act as a catalyst for private investment. The Welsh Secretary set no deadline for its life, but stated that its objectives should be 'substantially completed within 10 years.' The date of wind-up was eventually set at March 31, 2000.


Total public funding to the corporation over its lifetime will have been approximately £500m. The corporation estimates that by the time of wind-up, this will have secured about £1.14bn of private investment. That figure, when development is completed, is expected to have risen to about £1.8bn.


Cardiff Bay has, today, a transformed waterfront around a newly-created lake.  The Bay has become a focus of work, living and recreation for the people of Cardiff and the city region, and for visitors and tourists.  It is the Home of the National Assembly for Wales and, shortly, the Wales Millennium Centre for the performing arts.


There are new offices and factories, hotels restaurants and bars, shops, tourist attractions and community facilities.  Major employers have moved to the Bay and, to date, about 16,700 new permanent jobs have been secured.  Some 4,500 homes have been built or are under development.


This regeneration statement, required by Government, reports on why the corporation was set up, how much it has achieved and what remains to be accomplished in pursuit of the corporations' declared aim to create 'Europe's most exciting waterfront city'.



Geoff Rich, Editor South Wales Echo


"In the end, its down to you. The political balance is so fine that if you, through the South Wales Echo, oppose it, we won't be able to go ahead. "


That was the stark message to me from Paddy Kitson, the county council planning chairman, and Lord Jack Brooks, the council leader. We were discussing the Atlantic Wharf development idea which involved Bute East Dock.


The responsibility placed on me as Echo editor seemed at that time huge. But I loved it.  It involved my beloved Cardiff and my newspaper. It would have been easy to oppose the scheme as a costly pipe-dream when weighed against other priorities. But it was easier to support it, because of the jobs, the facilities and the reclaiming of derelict, valuable, ugly land.


I hosted a confidential lunch with Kitson, Brooks and Ewart Parkinson, the county planning chief and a disciple of the scheme. They outlined the potential opposition. I told them I would not only support the scheme; I would fight for it.


Then Nick Edwards - in my view the most effective Welsh Secretary ever, if also the most discomforting - broadened the whole scheme and vision into what is now the Cardiff Bay project. And the Echo wheeled up its guns in support. I have never regretted it.




Cardiff was little more than a village two centuries ago, with a population of about 2,000 clustered around a Norman castle, itself on the site of a Roman fort. The tidal River Taff provided a navigable route to the Severn estuary and Bristol Channel, across flat marshland and mudflats known as the Moors, but Cardiff itself remained of insignificance.


The stepping stones, however, to Cardiff's future as a leading seaport were being put in place. In the 1790s, when the Industrial Revolution stimulated mining in the valleys of South Wales, the Glamorganshire Canal was built to bring iron and coal down to the coast from Merthyr Tydfil. Cardiff's population grew with the activity and, as demand rose rapidly, the river wharves became inadequate to handle the tonnage.


In the 1830s, John Crichton Stuart, the second Marquis of Bute and a dominant landowner in South Wales, funded the excavation of Bute West Dock and its seaward entrance known as the Oval Basin. The Taff Vale Railway between Cardiff and Merthyr opened in the early 1840s and assured the success of the port. More docks were constructed around the estuary of the Taff and Ely rivers: Bute East Dock, Roath Basin, and the rival Penarth Dock.


By the 1880s, Cardiff had been transformed from one of the smallest towns in Wales to the largest. The port was handling more coal tonnage than any other in the world, as well as large exports of steel and tinplate. Its trading importance was marked by the opening of the grandiose Coal and Shipping Exchange in the docklands  ‘Mount Stuart Square’ (named after the Bute family seat on the Isle of Bute.)


Butetown, the surrounding dockland district, grew into a cosmopolitan mixture of immigrants and seamen from all around the world. It is estimated that 50 nationalities, ranging from Russians to Somalis, were to be found within its one square mile, which became known as 'Tiger Bay.' The origin of the nickname is obscure: one of several possible explanations is that Portuguese seamen described the voyage into the docks, coping with the surging tides of the Bristol Channel, to be like entering a bay of tigers.


Ownership of the port passed to Cardiff Railway Company, which based its headquarters in the flamboyant brick and terracotta Pierhead Building, opened in 1896, and today one of the most distinctive landmarks on the waterfront. Near to the docks, the East Moors iron and steelworks was established.


 By the turn of the century, Cardiff's population had soared to over 120,000. Civic self-confidence, emanating from the wealth created by the docks, was reflected in the construction of the neoclassical public buildings at Cathays Park. In 1905, Cardiff was awarded city status. The final dock, the 52-acre Queen Alexandra, which remains in use today, was opened in 1907.


On the eve of the First World War, Cardiff's coal exports reached their zenith, peaking in 1913 at over 10m tons. The decline of the dockland district was then like a slow wasting disease. Demand for coal slumped as marine and other engines converted to oil. International markets were lost as other countries developed their own steel industries.


The last symbol of the port's glory days came in 1927, with the opening of imposing premises for National Provincial Bank, next to Mount Stuart Square. Built in Greek classical style, its banking hall has walls and fluted columns of Echaillon marble. (The bank is now a branch of National Westminster.). Celebrating a 'Magnificent Building at the Docks', the Western Mail wrote of;


“A wonderful period of prosperity through which Cardiff passed in the last quarter of the last century and the first quarter of this.  There are pessimists who say those brave days are gone, but the pessimists are not numerous and there is today a deep-rooted confidence in the future"


World depression, though, was soon to worsen the port's decline. The docks were busy again during the Second World War and survived the Luftwaffe blitz with relatively little damage (although several hundred were killed in the city.) Post-war, however, the commercial decline continued. Trade was lost to container ports and, by the 1960s, coal exports had virtually ceased. Much of the housing in Tiger Bay was demolished to be replaced by drab estates of council homes. Glamorganshire Canal, the source of Cardiff's spectacular growth, was filled in, followed by Bute West Dock in 1964. The East Dock was closed to shipping in 1970.


Further blows were to strike South Cardiff. In 1978, East Moors steelworks, by then part of British Steel Corporation, closed with the loss of  3,200 jobs and probably double that number among suppliers. The plant had been rebuilt during the 1930s as what was then the most modern steelworks in Britain. At one time, as many as 9,000 people were employed there. More heavy redundancies came with the closure in 1985 of a Land Rover plant at the nearby Pengam Moors.


Cardiff had become a city of two halves. During the 1970s and early 1980s, the city suffered net out-migration. That trend reversed in 1985 as the city centre began to flourish with new shops, service industries, and professional firms  providing work for the entire sub-region. Meanwhile, South Cardiff epitomised urban decay.


There were still about 900 businesses there, employing some 15,000 people. Easily the largest was Allied Steel & Wire (ASW), which became a publicly-quoted company in 1987 and remains today a big employer. There were the docks themselves, run by Associated British Ports, a publicly-quoted company since 1983. Other businesses ranged from engineering, steel and docks-related companies to shops and professional services around Mount Stuart Square. But the outlook, with the unremitting decline of heavy industry, was bleak.


Only about 5,800 people lived in what was to become the development corporation's designated area, and many of these suffered from, as it became termed, social exclusion. A study published in 1988 (A Socio-Economic Profile of Cardiff Bay, Wales and South West Regional Research Laboratory) painted a picture of disadvantage, an above-average proportion of the very young and old and a high proportion of unskilled workers. While the resident population was only 2 per cent of Cardiff's population, unemployment amounted to 5 per cent of the city's total.


Nevertheless, those who lived in Butetown recall that it was still an animated place. 'There was always something happening,' remembers one long-term resident. Few outsiders, though, wanted to move there: for the rest of Cardiff, it had become 'the wrong side of the tracks.'


South Glamorgan County Council, which became the strategic planning authority under the two-tier system of local government established in 1974, was well aware of the need to revive South Cardiff. As early as 1977, its structure plan called for 'industrial expansion, redevelopment and reclamation of the waterfront strip.'  Proposals were put forward for a peripheral distributor road (PDR) to improve access.


These ideas reflected the vision of Ewart Parkinson, the council's director of environment and planning, and were embraced by Michael Roberts, Conservative MP for Cardiff North, and by successive South Glamorgan administrations.


 Under its Labour leader Jack Brooks [now Lord Brooks of Tremorfa], who himself had been a Cardiff dry-dock worker, the council took decisions to show its commitment. To attract investment into the docklands, it started work on the PDR, a dual carriageway road connecting with the M4 motorway. It also undertook a joint redevelopment venture with Tarmac around the enclosed, although still water-filled, Bute East Dock.


As the anchor to this scheme, named Atlantic Wharf, the council decided to have its own headquarters there, despite the reluctance of many of its 1,000-strong staff to move to the area. (The £28m building, in a distinctive pagoda style with Welsh slate roof, duly opened in 1988. Since the reorganisation of local government in 1998, when South Glamorgan was superseded, it has been the home of the new unitary authority of Cardiff County Council.)


The Atlantic Wharf scheme, which was linked to the city centre by a short dual-carriageway road, included some new private housing. On the other side of the estuary, where Penarth Dock was being used as a municipal rubbish dump, Crest Nicholson came forward with a plan which retained water in part of the dock for a marina village development.


In contrast, most of the broad acres of docklands and wharves, where vast quantities of coal had once been stockpiled, remained a neglected wasteland. Foreshores had been extended by a century of tipping of waste products from the iron and steel industry. Refuse on landfill sites had created potential problems with methane gas.


Lord Brooks remembers being appalled by the dismal scene of dereliction. 'It was the ugliest scrubland you could imagine - and almost in the heart of the city.'


The public had no access to the docks and few visitors came to the estuary itself, no longer bustling with maritime activity and merely the moorings for small boats and yachts. The Bristol Channel has the second highest tidal range in the world and, for much of the day, the estuary consisted of polluted mudflats. The docklands had given the city its wealth, but had then been disinherited.






South Cardiff's urgent need for regeneration was not unique in the 1980s. It was a decade marked in the UK by worsening urban stress, marked by a series of riots in several inner cities. Alarmed by the prospect of dysfunctional, deteriorating city centres, the Conservative Government decided to create urban development corporations (UDCs) with the purpose of stimulating renewal.


The UDCs were given responsibilities over their designated areas for a limited lifespan. They were modelled, to some extent, on the postwar new town development corporations. Michael Heseltine, then Environment Secretary of State, said the intention was to 'create new towns in old cities.'


With board members largely drawn from the private sector, the UDCs were allocated substantial sums of public money to initiate property-led projects, aimed at levering in a high level of private sector investment. To speed the process, they were given powers of planning and compulsory purchase which could circumvent the local authorities.


In 1981, the first two corporations were established under the Local Government Planning and Land Act 1980 in London Docklands and Liverpool's Merseyside. Heseltine described them as 'new centres of power to do what clearly needed doing but was equally beyond the competence of the existing public authorities.' Political opponents viewed the UDCs as contentious, criticising them as 'quangos' [quasi-automonous nongovernmental organisations] which were 'parachuted' into cities to override the elected, publicly accountable local authorities.


A second generation of UDCs was established in the late 1980s. For the Government, South Cardiff was an obvious candidate. South Glamorgan Council, which was Labour-controlled, realised the advantage of a corporation which could inject considerable public money into revitalising the area. But it did not want a London Docklands version, imposed on the Government's terms.


In 1986, Jack Brooks, the council's leader, and Peter Davey, its chief executive, met with Nicholas Edwards, then Conservative Welsh Secretary of State [now Lord Crickhowell]. Brooks made clear to Edwards that the local authority would oppose a corporation unless the council were closely involved and retained planning powers. 'We needed each other [council and corporation] if what needed to be done were to be done,' recalls Lord Brooks.


South Glamorgan Council made its own submission for an UDC to the Welsh Secretary. Envisaging that the regeneration process should be one of partnership, the submission argued that the corporation's board 'should reflect the contributions to be made to its work by local authorities.' Its proposals, it stated, would ensure that local authorities and agencies were not excluded from shaping the direction of the redevelopment and would guarantee 'that the voice and wishes of the local community are heard.'


This submission also advocated the construction of a harbour mouth barrage across the Taff-Ely estuary to 'enhance the opportunity and scope for the regeneration of South Cardiff.'


The idea of a barrage, enabling the tidal mudflats to be replaced by an inland freshwater lake, with constant high water, had first surfaced when the Welsh Secretary was casting around for ways in which to revitalise the docklands. Freddie Watson, then a Welsh Office civil servant, suggested that such a scheme could act as a catalyst for a mix of waterfront development. The Welsh Office commissioned three consultants - Honor Chapman, Judy Hillman and Clifford Evans - to advise on the possibility of a barrage and its commercial feasibility.


Freddie Watson


Freddie Watson was assistant secretary at the Welsh Office and closely involved in shaping the Cardiff Bay vision. Later he joined Grosvenor Waterside, the propery arm of Associated British Ports, as executive director.


“The advent of urban development grants in the early 1980s was the key to regeneration, with a major grant used to kickstart the joint venture at Atlantic Wharf between Tarmac, the Welsh Office and South Glamorgan County Council. The projects success encouraged Nicholas Edwards, then Welsh Secretary, to focus attention on the whole area of South Cardiff.


Visits to Baltimore and other waterfront cities convinced us that Cardiff had the potential to achieve similar international status. The only feature which Cardiff couldn’t match was a more-or-less constant water level. It seemed to us that this could be created by a barrage, which would greatly enhance development potential.


Nick Edwards was determined that South Cardiff should become an integral part of the city. He decided that such a large, long-term project would best be managed by a single purpose authority, hence the creation of CBDC.


In recognition of the support from the local authorities, he didn’t transfer their planning powers to the new body, which made it unique among UDG. It was a sensible and shrewd move.


Grosvenor Waterside was fortunate in that ABPs chairman - Sir Keith Stuart - shared the vision. The development agreement between ABP and CBDC was a partnership of public and private sectors which became crucial to the Bay's success, so much so that by the end of 1998 ABP had invested more than £60 million in the development area.


That success has thrown up issues such as public transport, parking and the need for fast access. The infrastructure to achieve the vital links to the city and M4 hasn’t happened quickly enough. That's why it s so important to have a political driving force, as there was at the start. I hope the National Assembly will provide this.”



In December 1986, Edwards announced that he would set up Cardiff Bay Development Corporation with the support of the local authorities. The corporation was conceived on a grand scale, intended to be high profile and well funded. Its 2,700-acre area, stretching from Penarth waterfront in the west to Wentloog in the east, and northwards to the edge of the city centre, was the largest of any UDC other than London Docklands. (In all, the Conservative government established 12 corporations in England and another in Belfast.)  Edwards set these objectives:


 Reunite the city centre with its waterfront.


Promote development which provides a superb environment in which people will want to live, work and play.


Achieve the highest standards of design and quality in all types of investment.


Bring forward a mix of development which will create a wide range of opportunities and will reflect the hopes and aspirations of the communities in the area.


Stimulate residential development which provides homes for a cross section of the population.


Establish the area as a recognised centre of excellence and innovation in the field of urban regeneration.


The announcement of the corporation was greeted enthusiastically: 'Making Cardiff Bay the best of British,' headlined thc South Wales Echo, while the Western Mail called it 'Dream plan for city waterfront. '


Edwards called for 'substantial progress' to be made within 10 years. (Subsequently, the Welsh Secretary set specific annual targets.) He accepted that the councils should not surrender their control over development. 'I was careful to leave planning powers with the local authorities,' he later wrote.


“I was determined to avoid the tensions that had been created by a different policy in the early life of London Docklands.”


He directed, however, that the local authorities should consult with the corporation before making a decision on any planning application. He also gave it powers of compulsory purchase to facilitate site assembly. These arrangements were then legally formalised, with any disagreement on a planning decision to be referred to the Welsh Secretary for decision. (Over 3,000 applications were considered during the corporation's lifetime and only five disagreements had to be referred.)


The corporation was formally established on April 3 1987. From the start, the board adopted the freshwater bay, with its 12km of waterfront, as the centrepiece of its regeneration strategy. The lake, it envisaged, would differentiate Cardiff from all the other British and European cities competing for investment, jobs and tourism.  It would be an unique asset in marketing the Bay.


Geoffrey Inkin (now Sir Geoffrey Inkin) was appointed chairman. He was already playing a leading role in Welsh regeneration, as chairman of Cwmbran Development Corporation and the Land Authority for Wales, a statutory body with powers of land assembly to enable redevelopment. He had previously been a Gwent county councillor and once stood as a Conservative parliamentary candidate. This followed a career in the Army where, as a Lieutenant Colonel, he commanded the Royal Welch Fusiliers.


Jack Brooks became deputy chairman. Both men have served the corporation in their respective roles throughout its lifetime. Four other councillors on the 13-member board ensured that all three of the local authorities affected - the others being Cardiff City and Vale of Glamorgan Councils - were represented.


Later, under the Government's reorganisation of local government in 1996, South Glamorgan and Cardiff Councils were replaced by a single authority, Cardiff County Council. Its leader, Russell Goodway (former leader of South Glamorgan) and three other councillors are on the current corporation board. Vale of Glamorgan now a unitary authority, is also represented. [Sec appendix of board members.]


Private-sector members of the original board included Alan Cox [now Sir Alan Cox], then chief executive of Allied Steel & Wire. He has continued to serve throughout. The corporation, Sir Alan states, 'was a very big idea. It was an idea which was big enough to say it would change the circumstances of the city. If you achieved the overall strategy, you would undoubtedly change a huge area of derelict land into a viable community.'


Barry Lane, a former major general, was appointed the first chief executive. After his retirement in 1992, he was succeeded by Michael Boyce, at the time chief executive of South Glamorgan Council, and who had previously written the council's submission for a development corporation. He has held the corporation position ever since.


Continuity has been reinforced by the fact that three executive directors have held the same posts throughout most of the corporation's life: David Crompton, director of engineering operations; Phillip Higgins, director of finance and administration; and Duncan Syme commercial director.


It was intended that the corporation should be a streamlined, focused organisation. By the end of its first financial year, there were only 24 permanent staff, rising to 45 by March 1990. Partly due to the small staff, but also to draw upon the best expertise, consultants were used extensively in the early years. The corporation was structured into project teams, with people recruited from both the private and public sectors throughout the UK. The staff complement was to peak in 1996-97, at 102 people.




From the outset, and given its demanding objectives by the Welsh Secretary, the corporation's board recognised that its task was not simply a case of repairing a ravaged industrial environment but should have much higher aspirations.


While the priority was to create good-quality jobs, with a high ratio of private to public investment, the regeneration must not only benefit South Cardiff: it should become an asset for the whole capital and for Wales.


The corporation decided to devise a researched, long-term and visionary strategy, rather than one driven by prevailing property market forces. It would seek to change the geography of Cardiff with a new social and economic centre of gravity, aided by flagship projects which could be marketed nationally and internationally. Water was to be the focus of the vision. The regeneration of Baltimore's Inner Harbour, on the eastern seaboard of the United States, was an inspiration. As in Cardiff, the Maryland port had been in long decline. A programme of renewal, driven by a group of business people and a cross sectoral partnership, proved the springboard for a renaissance. A host of attractions was put in place around the harbour, including shops, restaurants, museums and science centres.


Baltimore's new-found appeal, drawing annually millions of visitors, made it highly rated as a location for companies engaged in international business.


The corporation realised that, while the strategy in Baltimore should not be copied slavishly, similar, bustling cosmopolitan activity could be generated around its own, much longer, waterfront. If a freshwater bay replaced the tidal mudflats, that could be the turnkey for the whole redevelopment of South Cardiff


The bay was seen to have a dual purpose. Firstly, it would make an environment more visually appealing to companies which might then choose to locate in South Cardiff. Secondly, it would be an asset to the city and region as a whole, and bring visitors and tourists to the leisure and cultural attractions that could be established, with an "arc of entertainment" around the bay's Inner Harbour. South Glamorgan County Council agreed to promote jointly, together with the corporation, a private parliamentary bill for the proposed barrage to impound the Taff and Ely rivers. The corporation appointed a consultancy firm, Llewelyn-Davies Planning, to draw up recommendations for an overall regeneration strategy.


In 1988, after public consultation with local authorities, business interests and local communities on the Llewelyn-Davies proposals, the corporation adopted what it described as an 'innovative, visionary and flexible' strategy that was also achievable. It set out to provide:


A vision of a new future for the Bay.


A clear structure for organising development and responding to opportunities.

An urban design concept creating a sense of place, 'with superb development sites and an attractive environment, blending the best of the old and new in a unique landscape setting.'


A marketing image for attracting investment locally and internationally in new activities and lifestyles.


A stimulus to providing jobs, houses, leisure and a better environment for local people and residents.


Principle schemes to act as the catalyst for investment were identified. These were:


a) Major projects around the Inner Harbour and bay created by the barrage.


b) A north-south continental-style boulevard to reunite the waterfront with the city centre, creating a new linear centre.


c) Open spaces with public art.


d) Linkages in terms of development, landscaping and infrastructure to bring the outlying areas into the overall scheme.


e) Completion of the peripheral distributor road from the M4 motorway, with a section near the waterfront to be in a tunnel to avoid creating a barrier with the rest of the city.


The corporation (which had not been vested with any land at its birth) initiated a study on land ownership to enable its strategy to he implemented. Much of the land was in numerous small parcels. After assembling sites and, when necessary, relocating existing businesses, the policy would be to sell these sites under agreement which stipulated that development took place as soon as possible. The corporation also began environmental work to smarten the area to portray its potential.


To encourage private sector investment, the Bay had Objective 2 assisted area status, enabling new or expanding companies to apply for government aid. In addition, the corporation was able to offer urban investment grants for big projects and discretionary financial assistance. This included rent relief, grants for building conversion and measures to improve the appearance of sites and premises.


The corporation set itself targets which, it calculated, would need to be achieved if its mission were to be fulfilled. Without imposing time limits, these were:


Private sector investment of £1.2bn.


29,000 permanent jobs.


Commercial/industrial floorspace of 1,150 sq m.


54 hectares of open space.


6000 residential units.


 With the help of consultants, planning briefs for nine geographic areas were devised to give detailed guidance on proposed developments. Ben Thompson & Associates of Boston, a leading international urban designer for waterfront developments prepared the brief for the heartbeat of the regeneration, the bay's Inner Harbour, which is now the focal point of what the corporation has named the Millennium Waterfront.


During 1990, consultation on the briefs took place with the local authorities, other bodies and the community. Local people, however, were wary of the large scale of the projects. Many inhabitants lacked the skills required by new employers and feared that jobs would go to outsiders. "The reaction of residents varies from scepticism over the benefits which are being promised to outright hostility,' the Western Mail reported.


Geoffrey Inkin, the board's chairman, sought to give reassurance: 'The fears of the existing population are understandable - that their interests may be adversely affected by an overwhelming and insensitive programme. The corporation is determined that this fear should not be confirmed by its performance. 'To avoid the disturbance to residents that would be caused by relocation, the corporation did not plan to clear any of the existing housing stock. No house was ever demolished.


The corporation said that, while its regeneration strategy was robust, it was 'a process, not a plan' which would be reviewed annually in the light of available resources, changing requirements and new opportunities. It stressed that 'the philosophy of partnership imbues all aspects of the strategy - a partnership of the private and public sectors and the communities, national bodies, local authorities, development agencies, academic and funding institutions, each of which has a major role to play.'


Doubts, though, were raised over the time taken to evolve and implement the strategy. The corporation suffered a credibility problem, with criticism that it 'didn't appear to be doing anything.' But the corporation's board was determined it should not start with a flurry of piecemeal development. It wanted to ensure that its concepts should be thoroughly considered to ensure a long-term framework for subsequent decisions. Its view was that it was dealing with the legacy of the previous century in order to create the inheritance for the next century.


As an integral part of the policy, a marketing strategy was adopted to raise awareness of what was planned. A visitor centre was opened to show the ideas and scale of the regeneration and attracted over 1.4 million visitors during the lifetime of the corporation. Areas were given more evocative names such as Ocean Park (the former East Moors estate), Penarth Haven and Pengam Green. Public interest was aroused and maintained by the staging of free events, such as open-air concerts and powerboat racing. (In recent years, there has been an annual 'Art Around the Bay' exhibition.) By taking advantage of the ample space for car parking, the corporation could market the waterfront as an events venue.


This marketing strategy, supported by a substantial budget, had a twin benefit: it encouraged the people of Cardiff and South Wales to come to the waterfront; and it showed to the outside world, including potential investors, that 'things happen in Cardiff Bay.'


Honor Chapman


Honor Chapman is international director of Jones Lang Laselle, international property consultants. She was personal adviser to Nicholas Edwards, then Welsh Secretary, and his team when the idea of a barrage to create a permanent waterfront in Cardiff Bay was first mooted.


She later served as a board member of the corporation from its inception in April 1987 to February 1994, chairing its development committee and greatly influencing the strategy for marketing the Bay to potential inward investors.


“Regeneration has been carried out extremely effectively. Possibly more than any other urban development corporations, CBDC has achieved its objectives. It is a pity that it is now being wound up.


Given that the corporation could not pay the sort of salaries that it should have been able to offer to attract top quality staff to a world-class development, we were extraordinarily fortunate to get the calibre of people that we did.


It was also crucial to do detailed work before setting up the organisation to carry out regeneration and to be very inclusive of those from whom you took opinions.


The pre-phase planning was just as important as the corporation’s development plan itself


The process and the proposition of development had to be closely examined before you could arrive at the sort of organisation which was needed to run it. And there had to be a consensus.



In 1993, the corporation was ready to promote the Bay nationally and internationally with the brand image of its newly adopted 'mermaid' logo. A high profile launch, attended by the Princess of Wales and with the Welsh National Opera, was held at London's Mermaid Theatre. It attracted a full house of over 700 potential investors, property and commercial agents and members of the media.


This was to be followed three years later by a 'London Week' of presentations, held at the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (Bafta) in Piccadilly. By then, the corporation's marketing team was able to show how the Bay was fast changing. In 1993, there had been plans and ambitions; in 1996, there were identifiable achievements. Two messages were highlighted: Cardiff Bay was 'Not just virtual - but reality,' and it was set to become 'Europe's most exciting waterfront’




Cardiff Bay’s admirable natural setting always offered excellent potential, even if there were few of the historic waterfront warehouses, which, in other maritime cities, such as Bristol and Liverpool, lent themselves to conversion


The corporation recognised that, while conserving the best of the dockland heritage and the Victorian and Edwardian buildings around Mount Stuart Square, it was the new developments which needed to be the visual showcase.  These projects should meet the objective set by the Welsh Secretary of ‘the highest standards of design and quality in all types of investment’.


This approach was at odds with the atmosphere of the time, in which market forces were rampant.  Barry Lane, the corporation’s first chief executive, commented  during its first year;


“Experience worldwide, not least in the USA, points to the dilemma within all  urban developments of the achievement and maintenance of quality of design and material when faced with market pressures and seductive developers.


'CBDC,' he added, 'is determined to maintain the standards appropriate to a capital city.' Although the corporation had to be careful not to deter investors by imposing too exacting criteria, it took the view that, if the Bay were to fulfil the vision, there should be architecture and public spaces of high aesthetic value.


Early in its life, in 1988, the corporation set up a Design and Architecture Review Panel to promote excellence in design. Later given a wider remit as the Development Advisory Panel, it is comprised of eminent external members [see appendix]. First chaired by the late Sir Alex Gordon, it has been led since 1990 by Professor Richard Silverman, head of the Welsh School of Architecture, and who also serves on the corporation's board.


The panel, together with the corporation's own architects and planners, have played a central role in discussions with local authorities and developers to facilitate good design. Developers have been persuaded, for example, to select suitable architects. Because the corporation had to be statutorily consulted on planning applications which it could then veto (with any disagreement being referred to the Welsh Secretary), it could demand higher design standards than might otherwise have been the case. The aim has been to achieve an overall consistency and coherence.


For two of its key projects, the corporation was determined to have international-quality concepts. These were: a new boulevard, named Bute Avenue, to reunite the city centre with the waterfront; and the bay's Oval Basin, next to the Inner Harbour.


It was envisaged that Bute Avenue would be of a ceremonial status, bearing comparison with celebrated boulevards in other European cities. David Mackay of MBM, the Barcelona-based designers of boulevards for the Spanish city's Olympic village, was appointed to draw up a master plan.


While the need for Bute Avenue was self-evident, the issue of the rubble-filled Oval Basin proved more contentious. Its location, at the hub of the waterfront venues, made it vital to find the most appropriate function. Opinions differed sharply: some, for example, considered it should be returned to its original waterfilled state.


To resolve the matter, Professor Silverman chaired meetings of all the interested parties, with the architect Nicholas Hare as adviser. The corporation shared Silverman's view that the basin must become an important public space, a positive statement of imaginative urban design. The meetings resulted in agreement to a partial restoration of the basin as an open-air amphitheatre, with its maritime past recalled by its stone walls and newly-laid timber decking.


Around the waterfront, the corporation sought to have 'landmark' buildings which would create a new skyline for the 21st century. lts ambitions were signalled by its visitor centre, designed by the architect Will Alsop of Alsop and Stormer as a futuristic oval tube overlooking the bay. Opened in 1991, the centre was highly commended by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in its annual awards. It was later nominated, in the Independent newspaper by a panel of architectural experts, to be one of the 50 best British buildings of the 1990s. Will Alsop also conceived the sinuous shape of the bay's barrage, designed to complement the adjacent land form.


The outcome of the corporation's policy has been acclaimed buildings, in particular those of NCM Credit Insurance and St. David's Hotel & Spa. NCM's building, designed by the Cardiff Bay firm of Holder Mathias Alcock with the involvement of Nicholas Hare, opened in 1995. The structure resembles the prow and sails of a ship, with the sides clad in polished pink granite. From the inside, the staff enjoy a panoramic outlook. Visitors to the Bay were surprised to find such an ambitious and award winning building in South Cardiff and the corporation was able to use it as an architectural benchmark.


Equally prominent is the five-star St David’s Hotel and Spa, opened in 1999.  Designed by the architect Partick Davies, the hotel is perched above the Graving Docks with white wings soaring over its high roof. The balconies and windows give sweeping views across the bay and towards the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm in the Bristol Channel.



Other buildings yet to be completed should ensure that the corporation’s policy results in structures of notable merit.  For example, the renowned British architect Terry Farrell is designing the European headquarters for Bank One of the US.  Two other landmark buildings are the results of international design competitions; the Wales Millennnium Centre for the performing arts, and the National Assembly’s debating chamber.


The Wales Millennium Centre is the successor to the original aborted plan for an opera house designed by Saha Hadid.  A selection panel- which included lay members and local residents in ‘a community jury’ led by Michael Manser, and ex-president of the RIBA- chose the Welsh architectural practice Percy Thomas Partnership.


Initially, architectural critics greeted Percy Thomas Partnership's concept with scepticism. But the design, demonstrably rooted in Wales, has met with growing respect as it has been evolved by the architect Jonathan Adams. The curved walls, of recovered slate stone quarried by hand over a century ago, and the use of steel shells and native hardwoods, are intended to evoke images of the country's landscape, natural materials and cultural and working traditions.


Lord Callaghan, the former Prime Minister, chaired the selection panel for the National Assembly design competition, which attracted 55 architects. The winning design is by Richard Rogers Partnership, which has been responsible for the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Lloyd's building in London and the Millennium Dome at Greenwich. Lord Rogers has conceived a modernist building with glass walls intended to symbolise the transparency expected of modern democracy.


According to Alun Michael, the Assembly's First Secretary, 'It's a building looking towards the future and which represents all that's good about the dynamic new Wales - new technology and new materials and a spirit of adventure.'


A spirit of adventure has also been evident in the corporation's desire to add artistic interest to the natural and built environment. In its early days, it appointed the Public Art Consultancy Team to devise a strategy for public art, the first of its kind in the UK.


The basis of the strategy is a 'Percent for Art' policy, as advocated by the Arts Council, in which developers are expected to allocate money towards artworks in the public realm. 'This policy is regarded as an essential ingredient in the regeneration strategy and will help make Cardiff Bay a landmark on the international map,' stated a 'Policies for Urban Quality' document published by the corporation in August 1990.


To co-ordinate and implement the strategy, the corporation set up the Cardiff Bay Arts Trust which it has partly revenue funded. The trust (which has since opened a gallery at its home in Bute Street) has advised on virtually every development in the Bay. Its work, begun by its first director Sally Medlyn, has embraced corporate commissions, enhancements to public spaces, art at strategic entrances to the Bay to create a sense of arrival, and projects of benefit to the local community. The trust's reputation is such that, in 1998, it was appointed to deliver a programme of public art in Wolverhampton.


 Throughout the Bay, visitors can see intriguing works commissioned by the trust from Welsh, British and international artists. These are complemented by the attention given to detail: the patterns of paving or shape of streetlights. The sense of civic pride inculcated by the artworks is shown by the virtual absence of vandalism.


Sometimes, art has been used imaginatively to disguise utilitarian structures. For example, 'Power Box, Blue Flash & Mesh Chips', by John Gingell, is a huge arrangement of brightly-coloured angular shapes which mask an electricity substation. 'Palisade,' by Denys Short, consists of reflecting stainless steel sections which enclose lock machinery. 'Landmark 1992', created by Pierre Vivant on a traffic roundabout, is a tumble of three-dimensional forms based on road signs (local drivers have nicknamed it the 'magic roundabout.')


 Other works take the form of standalone sculptures. At the eastern entrance to the Bay is 'Secret Station' by Eilis O'Connell, which has twin 12-metre cones utilising steam and fibre-optics to symbolise the industrial past and birth of new technologies.


There are, too, reminders of the port as a gateway to the world. 'Private View' is an interactive sculpture by Kevin Atherton which incorporates telescopes. A popular sculpture is 'People Like Us', by John Clinch, a bronze group of a docker, woman and their dog.


Perhaps the most evocative artwork is the merchant seafarers' war memorial, by Brian Fell. It has a human profile sculpted in black galvanised steel, representing the hull of a shipwreck.




 Cardiff Bay barrage, snaking between Penarth Head and Queen Alexandra Dock, is the single most striking - and expensive project in the transformation of South Cardiff.


The barrage, completed in autumn 1999, impounds the Taff and Ely rivers to create a 200 hectare inland bay. The structure itself cost about £100m. Other related environmental works, including the provision of alternative bird feeding grounds, bring the total to £197m (subject to the settlement of any unresolved contractual claims). This is about 40 per cent of the corporation's lifetime grant-in-aid from the Welsh Office.


Ships entering the port's Queen Alexandra Dock, outside the barrage, are unaffected. The barrage itself has three navigation locks and a fishpass to allow access to and from the sea. The largest lock is capable of handling 12 average-sized yachts at a time. Leisure uses of the bay will include sailing, canoeing, powerboat racing and fishing. The public can walk along the barrage, which is landscaped with linear parks, while the bay itself provides a natural, picturesque setting for the surrounding waterfront.


Although the quality of the bay's freshwater is unlikely to allow immersion sports such as swimming, the Taff and Ely have become far cleaner of late. The reduction in pollutants discharged into the rivers from the industrial valleys north of Cardiff has enabled salmon once again to return. The corporation spent £14m on the diversion of sewage outfalls and the water quality is expected to improve further in the future.


The corporation's commitment to the barrage has been unshaken from the start. In its first annual report, it stated: 'It is the firm conviction of the corporation that the creation of a lake in the Bay will create conditions which will heighten investment opportunities.' It believed far more jobs could be created with the lake than without it. But in a portent of battles to come, the report added: 'It is fully recognised that the drowning of a site of special scientific interest [SSSI] is a matter of concern and the creation of an alternative site for wading birds is included in the technical studies.'


Norman Robson was a founder member of Cardiff Residents Against the Barrage, an

umbrella organisation for groups concerned about the barrage, mainly over fears that it would raise the groundwater table and cause damp to houses. They campaigned against it during the parliamentary passage of the barrage legislation.


“There was a big flood in Cardiff in 1979. I chaired an action committee, which took a case for compensation to the High Court for residents, who felt they should have been warned by the authorities that the rivers were likely to overflow. We won a somewhat Pyrrhic victory, but about 300 people got compensation to which they were entitled.


The barrage raised resident’s fears again. Cardiff Residents Against the Barrage represented groups from all over the city. Mainly, people were concerned about their own houses and streets. We were never against development of Cardiff Bay, but we didn’t see a cosmetic barrage as being the answer and we were concerned about its effect.  We thought the money could be better applied to tidying up South Cardiff and creating investment.


The RSPB became involved because of the feeding grounds threatened by the barrage. They had vast resources and experience of how to fight at parliamentary level. They said we were entitled to petition against the Bill, which we did, involving hundreds of petitioners.


Every one of the Bill’s clauses was argued and we now have a comprehensive compensation package and a drainage system. But we still believe that the Bay could have been developed differently, using the natural asset of twice-daily tides.”


The 'matter of concern' led to a long running national controversy over the environmental impact. The estuary was designated a protected SSSI under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act because migrant wading birds and, to a lesser extent, wildfowl used the bay for shelter and as feeding grounds. The consequence of submerging the mudflats would be the displacement of most of the birds and the loss of an SSSI. In the media, it became reported as a 'jobs versus birds' argument.


No public inquiry was held because construction of the barrage necessitated an Act of Parliament. South Glamorgan Council, in its original proposals for a development corporation, forecast: 'Even if no substantial opposition were to be encountered [to a parliamentary bill], the earliest date for obtaining Royal Assent would be July 1988.'


In the event, there was determined opposition and Royal Assent was not granted for another five years. The original bill, after long debate and committee hearings, was blocked in April 1991. A second private bill failed. A hybrid bill, subsequently introduced by the Government, finally became law in November 1993.


The first private bill, deposited in the House of Lords in November 1987, was jointly promoted by South Glamorgan Council and the corporation. Lord Brooks, when moving the bill's second reading in February 1989, told the House: 'It is the barrage which will create the opportunity to develop a superb environmental setting; it is the barrage which will increase the interest of investors in the development as a whole; it is the barrage which will provide the opportunity to make Cardiff a major maritime city in Europe.'


Among the bill'.s supporters was Alun Michael, Labour MP  for South Cardiff and Penarth, and now First Secretary of the National Assembly. In 1989, he told the Commons: 'The barrage is the key to the redevelopment that will bring the jobs that are so vital to the area. We must redevelop South Cardiff so as to enhance and respect the existing city, but to create the jobs that we need and improve the environment in the way that we need, the barrage is the essential catalyst.'


Proponents of the barrage, who included local businesses, argued that the mudflats were more of a manmade than a natural feature. They were largely a legacy of dock construction and port activity. The barrage, it was pointed out, would provide the city with a sea defence against exceptional high tides, while sewage diversion and new treatment facilities would ensure that the freshwater was cleaner than the polluted seawater.


An economic appraisal statement by a group of four consultancy firms, commissioned by the corporation, was submitted to the Commons committee considering the bill. This statement concluded that, on key economic targets for permanent job creation and leverage ratios of public to private investment, regeneration with the barrage would be significantly more effective. It was forecast that, with the barrage, 23,000 jobs would be created in the surrounding area. Without it, the figure would fall to 13,000.


Parliamentary opponents included Ron Davies, Labour MP for Caerphilly and later to be Welsh Secretary, and Rhodri Morgan, Labour MP for Cardiff West. The forecast that the bay would result in so many additional jobs was challenged as being overoptimistic; questions were raised about the quality of the freshwater and the possibility of algae; and there were worries about the effect of rising groundwater on neighbouring properties.


To monitor any rise in groundwater levels, over 21,000 properties were surveyed as part of a protection scheme which, if necessary, will provide compensation.  Some worried local residents, however. formed an action group against the barrage. People claimed that the tidal mudflats were not unsightly and provided an ever-changing view of more beauty than a 'monotonous pond.' Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds vigorously objected to the loss of bird habitat.


During the parliamentary process, an environmental statement was prepared by the Environmental Advisory Unit of Liverpool University.  It stated: “Cardiff Bay is not in its own right a site of international importance for any wader or wildfowl species.  Howver, it holds a significant proportion of the Severn Estuary populations of several species of wader (Dunlin, Redshank, Knot) and wildfowl (Shelduck, Teal) which are of national and international importance.


The European Commission warned the British Government it would face prosecution under the European habitats directive for the loss of the mudflats unless an alternative bird habitat was created. The corporation committed itself to a scheme, eventually to cost £9.4m, to create compensatory feeding grounds on the Gwent Levels, upstream in the Severn estuary.


This wetland reserve has been developed in conjunction with the Countryside Council for Wales, the Government's advisory body on conservation, and which is responsible for the reserve as from autumn 1999. The council opposed the loss of the bay's feeding grounds but has since described the new reserve 'as an exciting opportunity to create a significant wildlife site.'




The 1.1 km barrage, providing landscaped gardens and sites for other public amenities, consists of an 800-metre rock and sandfill embankment, rising to a maximum level of about 20 metres.


Two breakwaters form an outer harbour.


Three locks allow boats to pass through, with a capacity of  400 boats on each tide.


Five sluices control the water level in the bay and a large fishpass allows salmon and sea trout to migrate between the sea and the Taff and Ely rivers.


After completion of the barrage in November 1999, dredging takes place with saltwater periodically flushed to remove pollutants released from the mud. The National Assembly for Wales intends that the Bay will be finally filled with freshwater by the rivers no later than early spring 2001.


The proposed water level will be midway between the levels previously reached by the mean neap and spring tides.


Will Alsop of Alsop and Stormer designed the form of the barrage and its landscaping.


Engineering design was the responsibility of Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners with Balfour Beatty-Costain as the main contractors.


Work commenced on the barrage on 24th May 1994 and the locks became operational on the 5th anniversary of the contract, on 24th May 1999.


The Cardiff Bay Barrage Act 1993 was enacted on the 5th November 1993 and the lake was impounded exactly six years later - at 03:42 on 4th November 1999.


Gwent Levels Bird Reserve


The compensatory scheme for wading birds and wildfowl is a 400 hectare (990-acre) wetland habitat. It consists of wet reedbeds created from disused lagoons at the former Uskmouth power station; an area of land previously used for agriculture which is being restored to wet grassland; and an area which is being converted into shallow saline lagoons. The intention is that the wetlands should reach the status of either a Special Area of Conservation or be designated a Special Protection Area within five years of completion.




Hyder, the Welsh water company, is spending £180m on a treatment works in Cardiff Bay in the largest single investment in its Green Sea programme to improve the quality of Welsh coastal waters. The treatment works, on a 25hectare (62-acre) landscaped site, will incorporate a visitor and education centre, with an observation tower giving views across the Severn estuary and Bristol Channel.




Although the distance from the city centre to the waterfront is only one mile, in practice the two have often seemed worlds apart.


For the public, especially for visitors unfamiliar with Cardiff, there was no obvious connection. Access by road, rail or foot was not straightforward. In consequence, people tended to visit either the city centre or the Bay, but not both.


It was always central to the corporation's strategy that the two areas should be complementary, brought together to form a united city rather than rival districts. The principal means to achieve this was to construct Bute Avenue, a tree-lined boulevard between the centre and the waterfront which would provide people travelling to the Bay with a sense of occasion.


Within the corporation, Bute Avenue, based on a design by David Mackay of MBM, the Barcelona-based architectural practice, was considered at least as important as the harbour barrage. As with the barrage, the project faced a long struggle to materialise. One reason was that, in its early years, the corporation did not have the funding to start both projects simultaneously. Then, when the barrage began to face long delays through its parliamentary process, Bute Avenue also suffered setbacks.


The expected start of construction was repeatedly frustrated for a variety of reasons. There were plans to have the avenue ready in time for Cardiff's hosting of the European summit in 1998 and then for the Rugby World Cup in 1999. These hopes were dashed, although compulsory purchase orders were issued to affected properties and preliminary work started on site clearance and the installation of services .


It was not until July 1999 that Bute Avenue at last began to become a reality. Alun Michael, First Secretary, approved the £120m project under the Government's Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Thc press welcomed the deal as creating 'a lifeline’ between the city centre and waterfront.


The PFI agreement is with Citylink (Cardiff), a joint venture consortium led by Norwest Holst as main contractors and the property group MEPC as principal partner. Beazer and Wimpey will build townhouses and apartments along one side of the avenue. A business quarter, called Bute Square, is being established at the northern end - the first new urban square in the city since the 19th century. The southern end will be anchored by the Flourish, the name given to a public space connecting the adjacent Oval Basin, the Wales Millennium Centre and National Assembly.


Under the contract, the dual-carriageway avenue will be completed in not more than 20 months. The developers are committed to build 33,400 sq m of offices, of which a third has to be built on a speculative basis within 18 months of the road's completion. This should help to meet a shortage of quality office buildings in central Cardiff. Shops and restaurants at the northern end are envisaged in future phases and, in all, 360 townhouses and apartments are planned. Nicholas Hare Architects prepared the commercial development master plan for MEPC. Robert Ware, MEPC's chief executive, has stated: 'We are confident the development will be a great success and create a new commercial and social destination in the city. In the second phase of the project, a contractual proposal is to remove a rail embankment alongside Bute Avenue and replace it with a light rapid-transport system. Plans for this system ran into complex difficulties with the rail companies, the level of subsidy, access into the city centre and connections with the South Wales Valleys. But contractual provisions and funding have been put in place, giving rise to optimism that a diesel tram system will be established. This would enhance connections between the waterfront, city centre and the regional commuter belt. In the meantime, there is a desire by all concerned to upgrade the public transport and enhanced bus services will be run.


A separate piece of infrastructure to counter the Bay's isolation was already in place at the start of the corporation's life. This was the western part of the peripheral distributor road (PDR), a dual carriageway connecting with the M4 motorway. An extension of this road, over the river Taff and past the Inner Harbour, was then planned to take it to South Glamorgan Council's new headquarters at Atlantic Wharf.


Although Baltimore's lnner Harbour was seen as a role model in waterfront regeneration, the corporation was determined to avoid one mistake it considered had been made there. A busy highway created a barrier between harbour and downtown. The corporation pressed for the extension of the PDR, called the Butetown Link, to be in a 1 km 'cut and cover' tunnel. lt contributed nearly £30m to the capital and commuted maintenance costs.


This tunnel ensures that the historic quarter around Mount Stuart Square remains an integral part of the waterfront and minimises the environmental damage of heavy traffic. It has also allowed for development to take place on the ground above the tunnel. Work started in ]991 and was completed in 1995, when Neil Kinnock, then European Transport Commissioner, opened the road.


 The Butetown Link has since played a vital part in ensuring public awareness of the changes in the Bay. For the first time, the docklands have become an easy alternative way for commuters and shoppers to travel into central Cardiff from the west and north.


It was always intended that the PDR would connect with the M4 motorway on both the west and east sides of Cardiff. On the map, the new road would curve like a necklace looping below the city centre. South Glamorgan Council built the western section first on the assumption that funding would soon follow for the so-called Eastern Bay link, much improving access from the direction of Newport and England. No serious environmental objections were expected as the land was of low amenity value and non-residential.


The corporation described the early completion of the eastern link as being of prime importance to the whole redevelopment.  Llewellyn-Davies, the consultancy firm which advised on the regeneration strategy, enthusiastically envisaged it as a ‘corniche’ with sea views offering motorists a spectacular arrival in the bay. 


Design work was begun and it was hoped site construction would start in 1995.  But the corporation was not the highways authority and the road has yet to be built.  Concern by the Welsh Office over the cost and subsequent reluctance by Cardiff County Council to a proposal to combine it with Bute Avenue under the Private Finance Initiative, resulted in stalemate.


Despite some improvements to the existing eastward road, access to and from the A48 (M) and M4 motorways in that direction remains laborious.  The Eastern Bay scheme however, has not been abandoned.  Design work continues by the local authority.  An heliport, operated near the docks by Veritair, as been relocated which will clear the way for the route. 


Logic dictates, the corporation believes, that eventually the road will be built.  When that happens, the Bay will have a matrix of infrastructure which will fully integrate it with the city centre and motorway network.





Despite the dereliction in South Cardiff in the late 1980s there were some 900 businesses in the corporation’s designated area, mostly small and medium-sized enterprises with the notable exception of Allied Steel & Wire (ASW). The Bay remained the industrial base of the capital s economy with 41 per cent of its l 5 000 workforce engaged in manufacturing. Successful regeneration required the sustaining of these local businesses as well as the winning of new investment. But the corporation needed to move some 300 companies to clear land for infrastructure and to assemble development sites. The policy was to try to move these businesses within the Bay, or, failing that within Cardiff. The corporation estimates about 75 per cent of the jobs in relocated businesses were retained either in the Bay or elsewhere in the city.  The corporation in its development plans identified areas for different types of businesses. Existing buildings around Mount Stuart Square provided space for established or new small enterprises. ‘Bad neighbour’ industrial operations, such as car breaking or scrap metal processing, would be relocated to be grouped together. The flagship zone for light industry would be Ocean Park. Other locations were earmarked for industrial commercial and retail use. A new business quarter was planned at the northern end of the proposed Bute Avenue. Waterfront sites were proposed for prestigious organisations.


 In its first year the corporation began acquiring sites, and Baltic House in Mount Stuart Square was bought to be renovated as the corporations headquarters. In 1989 an important development agreement was made with Associated British Ports (ABP), the Bays largest private-sector landowner and its property subsidiary Grosvenor Waterside.  ABP rather than sell its redundant wharves and land to the corporation chose to develop its holdings in partnership with it. In total the company brought forward 65 hectares (160 acres), with ABP responsible for land on the Ferry Road peninsula and Grosvenor Waterside for land, which it named Capital Waterside, near to the Inner Harbour. ABP and Grosvenor Waterside have since played a very significant part in the Bays regeneration.


 By the end of its third financial year the corporation had acquired 538 acres and made its first land sales. However the UKs economic recession of the early 1990s reduced expectations of the pace of development. The property market nationally has suffered the worst investment condition for more than 30 years commented the chairman’s statement for 1990/91. Nevertheless the corporation put in the infrastructure and landscaping for Ocean Park and other areas. Over 11 000 trees and 30 000 shrubs were planted. As a result when the market did pick up it was able to offer serviced sites in an improving environment.


 Two property deals were to prove influential in awakening interest in the Bay’s potential as a location for offices. The first was a large pre-let building at Capital Waterside for the Welsh Health Common Services Authority (WHCSA), aided by a corporation grant of £480 000. The 14 300 sq m building called Crickhowell House opened in 1993. Of even more significance, because the tenant came from the private sector, was the arrival of the Dutch-owned NCM Credit Insurance, which had acquired the part of the Government.s Export Credits Guarantee Department privatised in 1991. NCM (which received a corporation grant of £2.5m) agreed with Grosvenor Waterside to take an 11 200 sq m building in a landmark position overlooking the bay. These two buildings helped to turn the corner for the Bays property market.


Peter Kelly is chairman of property advisers DTZ Debenham Thorpe, South Wales and South West region. The company has acted as adviser in a number of major development transactions.


“When I came to Cardiff it was a steel city and nothing more. There were two things which militated against investment: the corrosive red dust belching from East Moors steelworks; and the five lanes of traffic through the main thoroughfare of Queen Street.


When the steelworks closed, the Welsh Development Agency got to grips with redevelopment and that is how regeneration began. Queen Street was pedestrianised. Suddenly Cardiff'- already a capital city- became a regional shopping centre.


In 1984 Tarmac bought 66 acres in the area of Bute East Dock. South Glamorgan County Council’s decision to build its new headquarters there was the start of public/private sector partnership in the area, moving the city's boundary south. It proved you could build houses on derelict land and people would buy them; and you could let offices south of the main railway.


As an office location, the Bay combines some of the advantages of the city centre and out of town business parks: good road communications, links to the city and M4, car parking and leisure amenities.


Cardiff is now an institutionally-accepted property market. Cardiff Bay has contributed because its a high-profile scheme which has attracted considerable private investment. The corporation has maintained quality standards and that has paid dividends. The master plan that was drawn up for the waterfront has stood the test of time. The crowning achievement is the National Assembly for Wales.


Cardiff Bay is an unparalleled success. I'm only disappointed that an effective public transport system hasn’t been provided. Bus lanes do not show the same level of commitment as steel rails.”


Another vital factor in triggering interest, and in ensuring a broad-based structure to the Bay's economy, came in 1994 when a Japanese and German joint venture announced the largest manufacturing investment to date. Nippon Electric Glass (NEG) and Schott took land at Ocean Park for a factory to manufacture screen glass for the television and computer industry throughout Europe. Under an innovative ‘piecrust' deal, NEG acquired only the site's topsoil while the corporation retained the land underneath to be responsible for any problems which might arise from previous contamination.


The plant, which began production in 1995 and has a 600-strong workforce expected to rise to 750, plays a valuable part in helping to secure jobs throughout the electronics industry in South Wales. It was crucial to the subsequent decision of L.G Electronics, of South Korea, to site a plant at Newport, east of Cardiff, in one of the UK's largest inward investments yet.


NEG's investment of over £200m (with a corporation grant of f5.5m) attracted attention far outside Wales. 'It caused many other sectors to sit up and take notice' states one Corporation manager.


 Since then, there has been steady interest by companies in moving to the Bay. Government-funded regional selective assistance has helped, as have the corporation's discretionary grants to companies which total £23.7m. However, in marketing the Bay to potential inward investors, the foremost strategy is to emphasise the quality of life and location, close to water and the city centre, which enables employers to recruit and retain skilled staff.


A recognition of these advantages is shown by the success of Grosvenor Waterside's Scott Harbour, a speculative 10,100 sq m complex of five high-quality office units completed in 1997. Designed by Powell Dobson and arranged on five levels around a piazza, it was the first waterfront building intended for smaller occupiers. The development, which was given a £1.3m rental guarantee by the corporation, was fully let within about a year.


Tenants include the law firms Eversheds and Palser Grossman, the regional office of the Bank of England and Knight, Frank, the property consultants. Rents of £177 sq m have been achieved, matching prime space in the city centre. Two adjacent pre-let buildings have been built for Ove Arup, and a Regus business centre.


Crickhowell House, after a reorganisation of WHCSA, has become the home of the National Assembly and its temporary debating chamber. The Assembly is also leasing the Pierhead Building from Grosvenor Waterside. The permanent chamber, designed by Richard Rogers Partnership, is being built on an adjacent site which Grosvenor Waterside sold for £1. This deal was in the expectation that the Assembly would attract companies wishing to be near the new seat of government.


An early example of that interest was shown by Bank One International, a credit card issuer owned by one of the largest US banking groups. Bank One, aided by £3.5m of funding from the corporation and the Welsh Development Agency (WDA), is locating its European headquarters in a 23,000 sq m building on Grosvenor Waterside land near to the Assembly. Its workforce is expected to rise to over l,000 within three years.


 The bank adds to other leading financial organisations, including Axa and Prudential, which have established a presence in the Bay. (The corporation has participated in the South East Wales Financial Services Initiative, a joint project with the WDA, Welsh Office and local authorities, to encourage inward investment in the sector.)


A survey in 1998 by Cardiff Research Centre found that the Bay's employment had become led by banking and finance, distribution, retailing and hotels. Manufacturing, however, remained substantial, drawing upon the high skills base of the South Wales' labour force. Metal goods, engineering and other industries accounted for a third of the workforce of the businesses surveyed. Of 470 companies questioned, 42 per cent had been in the Bay for less than five years. A quarter, though, had been at their site for more than 12 years.


 "There is a traditional image of Cardiff as a heavy industrial area which may still persist in some areas,' states a corporation manager. 'Yes, we've still got heavy industry but employment is much more varied now, much more diversified.


'We've had major inward investment successes, such as NEG, but I think our success in our relocation policy has been critically important as well, in maintaining a large part of the existing industrial base and creating as wide a range of opportunities as we can.’


The long-established industrial zone around Dumballs Road shows little change: there are still light engineering businesses, metal workers, builders' merchants and similar enterprises. The corporation took a deliberate decision not to revamp the area. The purpose was to retain cheap building stock for the kind of industries which any city needs, but which might be unable to afford the higher rentals likely to follow redevelopment.


 Of the new business areas, Ocean Park is described by King Sturge & Co, property consultants, as 'the premier indusrial location in Cardiff.' Other sites include Pengam Green and Celtic Gateway, a 'state of the art' multimedia and business park with fibre-optic cabling, satellite links and digital networks. NTL, the telecom company, relocated its Welsh headquarters there. The corporation has also made efforts to create a 'village' of multimedia companies around Mount Stuart Square.


Local business people, whether newcomers or those who predate the corporation, are represented by Cardilf Bay Business Forum, founded in 1992 by a small group including the current chairman, Andrew Parker, an architect, and Helen Young of Buffs, a wine bar and restaurant in Mount Stuart Square. The forum now has nearly 400 members with Lord Callaghan, the ex-Prime Minister and former Cardilff MP, as a president and Alun Michael, First Secretary, a vice-president.


The forum publishes a regular newsletter, Forum News, and lobbies the corporation and the public authorities on issues such as transport, car parking and security. (In the Mount Stuart Square area, this type of crime was cut greatly when the corporation funded the installation of closed-circuit cameras.) In general, the forum has greatly welcomed the revuvenation of the area and arrival of new business activity. 


Overall, a large majority of companies in the Bay appear satisfied. Of  488 companies which responded to Cardiff Research Centre on this question, only 4 per cent were 'very dissatisfied'. Of the others, 82 per cent reported themselves to be 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied.'




When the corporation began its life in the late 1980s, there were fewer than 6,000 residents in its designated area, living in about 2,000 households. A large proportion were in council owned or privately rented properties.


Although there were some pleasant Victorian and Edwardian terraces, the post-war council estates offered a dispiriting environment, close to industrial businesses. The perception held by most outsiders was of an unappealing area with intransigent social problems. This discounted the experience of many local residents, who enjoyed a strong sense of community and crime levels said to be lower than the Cardiff average. Butetown, in particular, was proud of its maritime history and cultural traditions. But few people wanted to move there.


Although the corporation was not the responsible authority for the publicly-owned housing stock, it helped to fund environmental improvements and community schemes. New private housebuilding, at the time the corporation was established, was limited to the Penarth marina village scheme by Crest Nicholson and the development of 60 homes at Atlantic Wharf by a Tarmac subsidiary.


The corporation's target for new homes was set at 6,000 units, of which about 25 per cent were to be affordable or social housing. In 1991, an agreement was struck with Housing for Wales, a public body responsible for social housing, to invest £38m over four years to provide 840 units. As part of a policy to avoid creating enclaves, these houses were built on different sites to blend with the intended private schemes and designed to be of similar external standards.


Private housebuilding, however, fell victim to the recession at the start of the 1990s. The slump in house prices deterred developers, who in any case favoured greenfield land to what they considered to be more difficult brownfield sites. Against this background, the corporation gave new housing a low priority. It was not a housebuilder itself, nor was it the planning authority.


When the property market did begin to pick up private housebuilders pressed for the faster release of land. In consequence, John Redwood, then Conservative Welsh Secretary, instructed the corporation to achieve more housing starts. McLean Homes, which previously as a Tarmac company had been responsible for the initial housing development at Atlantic Wharf, was persuaded to return to the wharf with a scheme for apartments.


Other housebuilders began work on a range of homes at Windsor Quay, on the banks of the Taff. Another significant advance was the arrival of St David, a subsidiary of Berkeley Homes. St David began construction of a complex called Adventurers Quay for about 220 penthouses, apartments and townhouses overlooking Roath Basin.


Demand for these developments was instrumental in proving there was a serious market in Cardiff Bay for such properties. The Bay, instead of being seen as a suburban satellite, could be regarded as a high-density city location, a convenient and desirable place to live for young working people, small households and 'empty nesters‘. The corporation made a concerted effort to target national housebuilders to show them the opportunities already trailblazed. In the late 1990s, the pace of housebuilding picked up dramatically. Barratt, Beazer, Bellway, Persimmon, Redrow, Taywood, Westbury and Wimpey have all become involved in a mix of developments. Builders have been encouraged to adopt a partnership approach to enable their schemes to be complementary. A design charter seeks to ensure houses are of a higher standard than might otherwise be built.


Sales have risen as more people visit the Bay and see the advantages of living close to the water and city centre. 'People now see the Bay for real - and think, we could go and live there,' says a corporation director. While the vast majority of newcomers are people relocating from within Cardiff, there is also a flourishing investment market with people buying places to let.


Interest in the homes at Adventurers Quay has been such that, by July 1999, only about 10 per cent were still available. Prices of up to £320,000 have been achieved. At Penarth Haven, up to £300,000 has been sought for townhouses in the Meridian, described by developer St David as having 'a Mediterranean feel with pastel rendering and decorative balconies.'


Barratt has been chosen to develop a complex of 55 luxury flats at one of the premier waterfront sites, next to the Graving Docks. The design, by London architects Goddard and Manton, is intended to be reminiscent of an ocean liner. At the southern end of Dumballs Road, 8 hectares of former industrial land are being developed to provide 600 units of private and social housing. Along one side of the new Bute Avenue, Beazer and Wimpey will build 360 apartments and townhouses.


Land in premium positions has recently sold for over £1m an acre. The overall aim, however, is to have homes in all price ranges, with one and two-bedroomed flats from about £54,000. The corporation's policy, in the sale of land, is to achieve market value as far as possible, but primarily to ensure that construction takes place, rather than to have sites hoarded in land banks.


As the growing population adds to the Bay's vitality, the effect becomes cumulative. Cardiff Bay, once seen by outsiders as a place to avoid, has become a preferred location. Over 3,100 homes will have been built by the time of the corporation's wind-up, with at least another 1,400 expected to be under construction or planned. About a quarter of this total will be social housing, in line with the target percentage.


The ultimate target of 6,000 homes (set before the property recession of the early 1990s) should be closely approached in the foreseeable future as more land for housing becomes available, at the Sports Village and in the area around Roath Basin. Most of the potential residential land will then have been taken.


“When we started here, there was a very small resident population and the sort of environment where you wouldn't consider making the biggest investment that you’re ever going to make.  It’s a massive turnaround to get to the state where we've increased the number of households by 250 per cent by creating an attractive environment which is where people want to live and work.

Pat Lewis Housing Strategy Manager


People also want to shop, and the corporation's main retail development has been at Ferry Road. Named Cardiff Bay Retail Park, and developed by Wilson Bowden, it has been sold to Schroder Exempt Property Unit Trust. This reclaimed land was previously a contaminated area of junk yards and refuse dumps. The project has helped to fund the transformation of a municipal tip into a wooded 51-acre public park.


Stores, which in the first phase included Asda, Boots and Argos, are said to have traded well above expectations. Shops trading in a second phase of development include Staples office supplies, Kingsway Furnishings and Holiday Hypermarket. Tesco, which already has one superstore in the Bay, is due to open a second at Pengam Green.




 When one walks around the waterfront, the view has changed almost out of recognition compared with a decade ago. The backdrop to the harbour and bay remains framed by Penarth headland, topped by the Victorian church tower of St Augustine, long a navigation mark for mariners in the Bristol Channel. Blue

 cranes identify the working docks with ships berthed alongside. The Graving Docks ('graving' is the cleaning of a ship's hull) retain their old mooring bollards. The quaint stone Customs House still exists, although no longer used for that purpose. Pub names such as the Ship & Pilot recall the heyday of the port.


Other reminders of the maritime history have a new life. The Victorian Pierhead Building, now leased by the National Assembly, is being restored. A pilotage building houses a brasserie. The berthed Lightship 2000, at one time stationed off the Gower peninsula, is a Christian centre open to the public. Close by, overlooking the Inner Harbour, is the 19th century Norwegian Church, now a lively arts venue with exhibition space and a cafe.


This white timbered church was shipped from Norway in prefabricated form in the 1860s, erected next to Bute East Dock and used by Scandinavian seamen. It closed 40 years ago and was later dismantled, although fortunately kept in store. A trust associated with the children's author Roald Dahl, who was baptised in the church, succeeded in having it restored on its new site, where it was reopened by Princess Martha-Louise of Norway in 1992.


One controversial heritage issue arose over the need to relocate the Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum. The corporation proposed alternative sites but the museum’s directorship, the National Museums & Galleries of Wales (NMGW), decided it should move to Swansea. The corporation and the NMGW were subsequently criticised by the commons Welsh Affairs Committee in March 1999, at the failure to keep the museum in the Bay.  The corporation, the MPs complained, had an excessively commercial approach to regeneration.


The Government, however, responded that it was satisfied that the actions of the corporation and the NMGW had been 'to the benefit of Wales as a whole, and specifically of both Cardiff Bay and Swansea.' It added: 'The Government believes that the corporation's strategy has resulted in a well-balanced development’


 Today, the Norwegian Church, Pierhead Building and other survivors of the past are part of a panorama which the corporation calls the Millennium Waterfront. The focus, of course, remains the water, but now a lake for events, entertainment and pleasure rather than a tidal estuary. An intrinsic element is to have landscaped promenades and public access, ranging from the barrage itself to the Taff Trail, a mostly off-road 88km cycleway to Brecon.


Around the bay are new landmarks: the eyecatching buildings of St David's Hotel & Spa, Techniquest, Mermaid Quay, NCM Credit Insurance, Scott Harbour and Adventurers Quay. Soon these will be joined by the keynote buildings of the debating chamber of the National Assembly, expected to be completed in 2002, and the Wales Millennium Centre for the performing arts, due to open in the following year.


St. David's Hotel & Spa, the first purpose-built five-star hotel in Wales, with a hydrotherapy spa and function rooms, has qualified as a member of the Leading Hotels of the World organisation. (The corporation made a grant of £3.54m towards the hotel's capital cost.) The hotel adds 136 rooms to the Bay's bedspace, which includes the four-star Cardiff Bay Hotel, a Holiday Inn Express and GoodNight Inn.


Roger Thomas is regional senior partner of Eversheds, solicitors. He is vice-chairman of Techniquest and a member of the council of National Museums and Galleries of Wales. He was chairman of the Welsh Industrial & Maritime Museum committee during negotiations over its future home.


“There has been a tremendous amount of enthusiastic support from the corporation for Techniquest. We hope we've reciprocated by delivering the appropriate footfall of visitors. A generation of schoolchildren has seen Cardiff Bay for the first time and many parents have also had their first intimation of the dramatic changes


The Industrial & Maritime Museum had been at its Bute Street site for 20 years but, following the huge changes brought about by the barrage plans, it became increasingly difficult to see how the museum could develop.


The Welsh Office acted entirely properly in dealing with two of its sponsored bodies /the museum and corporation, with conflicting aspirations. It put no pressure on the museum as to where it should go but made it possible, with the help of CBDC, for us to have available funds that allowed us to contemplate moving to another site. That decision was entirely a matter for the museum’s council. Swansea offered the best prospects.


From a business perspective, the triumph of the corporation, coupled with the efforts of the local authorities, has been to re-make Cardiff as a maritime city. The public sector took the lead and the private sector will have enough infrastructure and reclaimed land to take it forward, although its a pity that the Eastern Bay link and the Penarth link won't have been constructed before the corporation disappears. But there is now a self sustaining pattern of improvement.”


The Techniquest building, opened in 1995, was the UK's first science discovery centre to be purpose-built. With hands-on exhibits, a planetarium, theatre and cyber library, it seeks to develop people's understanding and appreciation of science. It describes itself as 'neither museum nor funfair but has the best of both for inquisitive minds of all ages.'


 Techniquest was established in 1986 as a trust by Professor John Beetlestone, its founding director, with the businessman Rudi Plaut as chairman. Originally sited near Cardiff Castle, the centre moved to the Bay with double the exhibition space, and visitors soon reached 100,000 a year. To give it even larger premises, the corporation funded a new building, alongside the Graving Docks, and leased it to Techniquest.


Total capital and revenue support has amounted to £12.2m. It is an example of how the corporation has been able to fund a project of social and educational value; whereas a local authority, faced with other priorities, would be unlikely to find such resources.The science centre has been immensely successful in attracting the public - and especially children - to the Bay. It has about a quarter of a million visitors a year. Nearby is another of the attractions: Harry Ramsden's, which offers frequent live entertainment as well as its famous fish and chips. In its first year, it had over 540,000 diners, making it one of the most popular destinations in Wales. Nearby, there is the innovative Sports Cafe, which opened in 1998, and where customers can watch televised events. Within walking distance is the Atlantic Wharf commercial leisure centre, a Tarmac Richardson development, which opened in 1997 with a 12-screen cinema, 26-lane Hollywood Bowl, cafe-bars and a nightclub around an indoor piazza. Other attractions include the Point performance and arts venue, in a former church, and the Wales national tennis centre. Craft in the Bay (the exhibition space of the Makers Guild in Wales) is moving to a new home on the Flourish, the piazza-style area at the southern end of the new Bute Avenue.


 One of the most significant commercial developments is Mermaid Quay, a  £25m 'festival shopping' scheme overlooking the Inner Harbour. Described by the corporation as 'Covent Garden by the sea,' the concept is influenced by similar schemes at Baltimore and Sydney Harbour. Completed in autumn 1999, there are speciality shops, theme bars and restaurants intended for all ages and lifestyles. The 14,200 sq m development, aided by a corporation grant of £2.76m, is by Sovereign Land (Cardiff) with funding from Schroder Exempt Property Unit Trust. Tim Binnington, chairman of Sovereign Land (Cardiff) has stated: 'By giving equal prominence to both leisure and retail, Mermaid Quay promises to offer a complete destination with activity throughout the day and night.


Other leisure-related schemes for the bay include those by Cardiff Council for an international Sports Village on the Ferry Road peninsula. The mixed-use development is intended to have shops, an indoor ski slope with artificial snow, athletics track, football stadium and ice hockey arena. At the heart of the waterfront attractions is the historic Oval Basin, next to the Pierhead Building and the Flourish. A  £5m scheme led by Nicholas Hare Architects transforms the basin into an open-air amphitheatre, surrounded by columns topped by lights, where concerts and events will be staged for 5,000 people - the apex of the corporation's plans for an 'arc of entertainment.'


The Port Today


The Port of Cardiff, owned and run by ABP, today offers stevedoring services for all kinds of cargo; storage facilities at frozen, chilled and ambient temperatures; and agency and haulage services.  Containers, steel, dry and liquid bulks can be handled. 


Principle trade is of grain, coal, coke, sand, petroleum products, timber and steel.  The port, which employs about 80 people, has also become a market leader in handling fruit juice products.  A passenger terminal caters for cruise ships.




From the mid 1980s onwards, when ways in which to revive South Cardiff were being discussed, the idea was mooted of an international-class centre for the performing arts.


One reason was that the Welsh National Opera lacked a permanent home; another was that Sydney Opera House, in particular, had proved the immense value to a city of an architectural icon which captured the world’s imagination.


What became the saga of Cardiff Bay opera house indeed caught national, and even international attention, although not for the reasons intended. Even more than the 'jobs versus birds' arguments over the barrage project, the opera house polarised public opinion.


In the early 1990s, the scheme gathered momentum with the possibility of lottery money from the Millennium Commission. An opera house trust was formed with funding from the corporation. An international design competition attracted 270 entries and, in autumn 1994, the architect Zaha Hadid was selected. The trust's bid for £50m towards the estimated £86m cost went forward to the commission, with the expectation that the opera house could be opened in 2000 on a waterfront site owned by Grosvenor Waterside.


The choice of Hadid proved highly controversial. Many architects thought her asymmetric design would result in a masterwork, one of the most imaginative buildings in Europe. Other opinions tended to range from sceptical to hostile. It became an issue which, in the words of one of the competition's assessors, 'set the architectural establishment against the wider public.' Some board members of the corporation, although supporting the project, were privately unhappy about the design.


Other factors came into play. South Glamorgan and Cardiff Councils, together with the Welsh Rugby Union, wanted £46m of lottery money to build a 72,500-seat stadium with a retractable roof in the city centre. This would replace the ageing Cardiff Arms Park in time to stage the Rugby World Cup in 1999. They feared that the commission would not give funding for two such expensive capital projects in the same city.


Because the commission was obliged to take account of public support, the councils sponsored an opinion poll. This showed that 71 per cent of the Welsh public would prefer the commission to fund the stadium, rather than the opera house.


It became a clash of Welsh cultures, between the two passions of singing and rugby. Lord Crickhowell [the former Welsh Secretary Nicholas Edwards], who became chairman of the opera house trust in December 1994, later commented: 'It helped to encourage that ever-present tendency of my fellow countrymen to fight among themselves.'


The Sun newspaper crudely entered the argument, claiming that people who bought lottery tickets would be paying for 'exclusive, expensive entertainment for the Welsh Toffs.' Ironically, the opera house had been originally called a 'centre for performing arts.' Edwards' successors as Welsh Secretary had advocated that it should be called an opera house. It was thought that inward investors would be more attracted by the prospect of sponsoring a project with the status of a national opera house. If, however, the name had remained unchanged, the accusations of elitism might have been avoided.


Meanwhile, as Hadid's conceptual designs were refined, the costs rose. The brief given to her included a multistorey car park which, as one assessor said, meant 'the provision of parking at design competition prices.' Serious doubts were raised over whether the project's necessary matched funding would be forthcoming. There were fears that subsidies would be needed to meet revenue shortfalls.


In December 1996, the Millennium Commission rejected the bid on the grounds that the project was too risky, with too many uncertainties over its design, construction and business plan.


The decision provoked fury among advocates of Hadid. Lord Crickhowell wrote a book, dedicated to Hadid, to denounce what had happened. In the book [Opera House Lottery, University of Wales Press, 1997], he accused the corporation of ‘betrayal' for, as he saw it, not throwing fullhearted support behind her design. He had wanted the corporation to support a resubmission.


The corporation's answer was that, despite the design reservations of several board members, it had always backed the project, spending a total of £2.3m including £1.85m on the trust's running costs. It accepted, however, the commission's conclusion that Hadid's design was not cost-effective.


In February 1997, the commission awarded funding for the sports stadium, named the Millennium Stadium. The opera house trust disbanded. That could have been the end of the matter. Instead, the corporation decided to have a 'wheel of consultation' around relevant Welsh authorities and organisations to see if a renewed attempt to have a performing arts centre would be supported.


This process led to a report called 'Bread and Roses' by the Institute of Welsh Affairs, which established that there was a perceived need for a centre. A project team was put in place, involving the Welsh National Opera (WNO), National Museums & Galleries of Wales, Cardiff Chamber of Commerce, Cardiff Bay Business Forum and the corporation.


The project's aims were agreed and lottery bodies consulted, followed by the formation of a company called the Wales Millennium Centre (carefully avoiding the jinxed word opera and emphasising that it would be for Wales, as well as Cardiff.) Sir Alan Cox, a corporation board member, was asked to become chairman.


Clear criteria were set for the centre to have a robust business plan, not to require revenue subsidies and to gain united support among cultural organisations within Wales. The centre would seek to attract new audiences, rather than duplicate existing audiences, and to be viable on a 'worst-case' scenario of attendances. In 1998, the Millennium Commission and Arts Council of Wales agreed to provide jointly £37.5m of funding towards the total cost of £70.6m. Work began in 1999 on the four-acre site bought from Grosvenor Waterside for £1.8m - with assurances that the matched funding was in place and there would be no annual revenue cost to taxpayers.


The centre, designed by Percy Thomas Partnership, incorporates a Lyric theatre with up to 1,900 seats. The WNO will be in residency and the centre will be also the home of a variety of cultural bodies. These include Urdd Gobaith Cymru (a youth organisation to maintain the language and culture of Wales), the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, and the Diversions dance company. About 200 additional jobs should be created and it is hoped to attract 1.75m annual visits.


In spring 2002, the Wales Millennium Centre is due to open. It will be, Sir Alan states, 'a world-class showcase for musicals, opera, dance, exhibitions and education. It will offer something for everyone.'




Ben Foday has lived in the Cardiff Docks area for 25 years. For six years, he was the Labour county councillor for Butetown and he was chairman of the Docks Residents Association for five years. He served on the board of CBDC for three years.


”When I came to Butetown much of the community had lost its spirit after being trodden down for decades. The area had been bulldozed and replaced with unsuitable development.


As a result, many were suspicious when CBDC, a government quango, moved in, although there was democratic control through the local authority. But people felt they were going to be kicked out. They were concerned about the barrage and wanted protection against groundwater. Compensation was a big issue.


However, much of the new development in the Bay would not have taken place had it been left to the county council. The creation of CBDC benefited Butetown as a ward. But some still feel the development is not for them. Others, who were very vocal about the corporation s activities, have since told me they were wrong. It is difficult to turn deeply-rooted feelings around.


The training programmes for local people have worked in the main, but not really for Butetown. You would have thought that, with all the agencies working together, a major breakthrough could have been achieved. The opportunities are there and future generations will be the main beneficiaries of regeneration. You can take a horse to water, but you cannot force it to drink.”

Although Britain's urban development corporations (UDCs) were intended to bring job opportunities for people throughout their travel-to-work areas, and to have an 'economic ripple' in the wider region, the creation of work for those living within the designated areas was a fundamental purpose.


Construction projects would offer some short-term jobs to the resident community, while private-sector investment was expected to lead to a 'trickle-down' effect in providing permanent work. This concept, however, tended to discount the common mismatch between local skills and the requirements of employers moving into the area.


Friction between the first-generation corporations and local people led to a warning in 1988 by the Commons Employment Committee: 'UDCs cannot be regarded as a success if buildings and land are regenerated but the local community are bypassed and do not benefit from regeneration. This view was supported by the Town & Country Planning Association, which warned: 'Unless the UDCs are 'owned' by their cities, they will not work. Private enterprise and central funds are not enough without local people to sustain it [regeneration] and local people to set it alight.'


A mismatch between what new employers wanted and available skills was especially acute in South Cardiff. At the inception of the corporation, an anomaly was that, despite the decline in industrial and docks-related employment, there were still many more jobs in its designated area than residents of working age. In 1987, it was estimated that Butetown contained 1.4 per cent (4,360 people) of the city's population but 5.1 per cent of its jobs.


Yet Butetown and neighbouring Grangetown (most of which lay outside the designated area) had unemployment rates of 11 per cent, among the worst in Wales and more than double the average in the city. Male unemployment was much worse, at 50 per cent in Butetown. Among the local communities, with their diverse ethnic mix, there was often a lack of the language and literacy skills required by employers. Economic activity rates were low compared to the rest of the city.


As the corporation's programmes got underway, local people had to adjust to changes to the physical environment and a restructuring of the local economy. Traditional industrial businesses continued to shed older male workers. The new, mainly service, companies, moving into the Bay wanted to recruit from a broader cross-section of people possessing different skills.


Early in the corporation's life, it was decided to draw together agencies working in training and employment to have a policy and framework for meeting the skills requirements. Called the Senior Training Group and chaired by the corporation's chief executive, the partnership drew up a strategy. This stressed that, while the Bay's economic revival would be of benefit far beyond its designated area, the group was focused on the 'task of ensuring that Bay residents have the chance of playing a part in and receiving the fruits of regeneration.


'Later renamed Cardiff Bay Training and Employment Group (CBTEG), it developed a 'hands-on' approach to enable residents to have training and employment opportunities and to help businesses source staff locally. Its current partners are the corporation, the Employment Service, Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Councils, Wales Trades Union Congress, Cardiff Chamber of Commerce, South East Wales Training & Enterprise Council and the Welsh Development Agency.


Initially, CBTEG's emphasis was on local labour and training initiatives in construction. A site employment office and training centre was set up in 1990 to enable local people to gain jobs in such projects as the Butetown Link, office building and the barrage. (By 1999, 1,500 jobs had been secured for Bay residents via the site office and 268 trainees gained jobs via the training plan.)


The focus on construction was soon widened to sectors with the potential for permanent jobs. Sub-project groups were set up for manufacturing, retail and childcare, hotel and catering, and tourism and leisure.


These groups meet with an employer as soon as a development or expansion is announced. Then, as projects come to fruition, recruitment events, job preparation programmes and customised training initiatives are organised and funded by CBTEG to ensure that local job-seekers can gain a competitive edge. A youth apprenticeship scheme has been supported. Posters and community noticeboards are used to raise residents' awareness of' ‘jobs in the Bay.' Outreach workers liaise with unemployed individuals who otherwise are unlikely to find work.


In all, the corporation has made £3.3m of grants to training and similar schemes. Innovative training programmes have won support from the European Union, including the European Social Fund and Leonardo da Vinci programme. A network of similar training projects in 11 EU member states has been established to exchange trainees and best practice in meeting the needs of disadvantaged groups.


Nippon Electric Glass (NEG), Harry Ramsden's restaurant, NCM Credit lnsurance, Techniquest, and St David's Hotel are among incoming employers which have recruited many staff locally. A survey in 1998 by Cardiff Research Centre of 423 Bay companies found that 7.5 per cent of their workforce lived within the area, with another 26 per cent in South Cardiff. Unemployment in the Bay has halved since the year the corporation was established, although it is still higher than the Welsh average. Unemployment in Butetown in summer 1999 totalled 262 people. Of these, no fewer than 225 were men, but the trend in male unemployment was downwards.


Training and employment schemes are one way in which local communities can be helped through the difficult transitional period caused by any large-scale regeneration. Even when land assembly leaves the existing housing stock alone - as has been the case in Cardiff Bay - there is the noise and disturbance of construction work and increased traffic. Conflicts are caused by the influx of workers, new residents and visitors. Longterm residents, especially those who are already on society's margins, may become resentful, feeling that the regeneration is 'not for them.'


To counter this, the corporation's Community Development & Training Team, in partnership with outside agencies, has coordinated initiatives which try to give residents a sense of participation in the regeneration process. A monthly newsletter, called 'Making Waves', supported by the corporation, aims to keep local people informed of activities, events and other news.


Discretionary grants totalling £2.8m have been made to community groups. Over 360 projects have been helped, with grants ranging from £1,000 to £100,000. For example, £74,000 has been contributed to Butetown History & Arts Centre.


Housing and landscape environmental improvements, at a cost of £3.1m, have been undertaken in conjunction with the local authorities. In the corporation's biggest single contribution to a community scheme, capital funding of £2.67m was made for a new primary school, Mount Stuart. Another primary school, St.Cuthbert's, was given a grant of £369,000 to enable it to buy land from the corporation for a replacement building.




At the start of the new millennium, when the success of European regions is widely seen to depend upon the vitality of their principal cities, Cardiff has become a fully-fledged capital.


Compared to the late 1980s, Cardiff's status has risen greatly, in keeping with its ambition to be recognised as a leading European city. It is the flagship of the Welsh economy, with a thriving financial and business services sector, and firmly established as the regional shopping centre of South Wales.


The creation of the National Assembly (the first Welsh parliament for almost 600 years) gives the capital an even more distinctive identity. The new Millennium Stadium, the newly-filled bay and imminent Wales Millennium Centre, all further raise the significance of the city to the Welsh people and to visitors from home and abroad.


This is a remarkable change in a relatively short time. Not long ago, outsiders tended to consider Cardiff- which did not become the capital of Wales until 1955 - to be no more than a typical provincial city. Its virtues were largely overlooked: the splendid civic buildings at Cathays Park, the National Museum and Gallery with its fine collection of French impressionist paintings, the castle restored in Gothic Revival style, the Victorian and Edwardian shopping arcades and St David's Hall. Tourism was only half what might have been expected, when compared to other cities.


Today, though, the city has much more of a buzz. There are new shopping malls, restaurants and hotels, a national ice-rink, an international arena, a centre for visual arts and the constellation of attractions on the waterfront. Long-distance transport connections have improved. The city is benefiting (as does the rest of South Wales) from the opening in 1996 of the second Severn bridge to England. Cardiff International Airport has been upgraded since it was acquired by TBI group in 1995.


 The capital's profile has been raised by events of national and international interest. In 1998, the city hosted the European heads of government summit (the corporation provided hospitality for 1,000 overseas journalists.) In May 1999, the Queen opened the National Assembly. Some 400 worldwide broadcasting organisations took news coverage of the ceremony, which was followed by a royal gala concert on the waterfront attended by 18,000 people. In autumn 1999, Cardiff hosted the Rugby World Cup.


'Cardiff is now on the world map,' according to Cardiff Marketing, which promotes business and leisure tourism to the capital. 'We are a credible and attractive destination.' The corporation, in its lifetime, provided funding of f 1.8m to Cardiff Marketing, which was launched in 1991 as a partnership with Cardiff Council, Wales Tourist Board and the Welsh Development Agency. 'This involvement,' Sir Geoffrey Inkin, the corporation's chairman, then commented, 'recognises that the success of the corporation's investment objectives and those of the region and Cardiff are indivisible and interdependent.'


In a survey of over 1,000 visitors to the city, published in 1999 by Cardiff County Council, 97 per cent said they found their trip either 'enjoyable' or 'very enjoyable.' Most of the first-time visitors came from overseas, with the highest number from North America. Compared with previous surveys, the factor which showed the greatest increase in influencing people to visit was Cardiff Bay. Interest in the Bay is shown by the fact that some 300,000 people a year come to its visitor centre.


 In addition to its regional role in tourism, leisure and shopping, the capital is the principal centre of employment in South Wales. About 1.4m peoplc - or almost half the population of Wales - live within a one-hour drive time. Many residents in the Valleys, who once would have worked locally in mining and heavy industry, are employed in the city. A survey by Cardiff Research Centre of companies in the Bay found nearly 30 per cent of their employees travelled to work from the Valleys or the Vale of Glamorgan.


 In another survey, published in July 1999, Cardiff was ranked the favourite of 15 UK cities as a place to work. The survey of of fice workers, commissioned by the property consultants Healey & Baker, rated cities on such factors as high-quality and well-located offices and the ease of getting to work.


The rejuvenation of South Cardiff has played an integral part in the capital's new vitality. Inevitably, the corporation having been created by a Conservative government as an unelected 'quango'has been a contentious instrument of intervention in a city of strong Labour loyalties. However, despite the parliamentary battles over the barrage and other controversies, its overall objectives have always won broad support across the political spectrum.


While UDCs nationally have been consigned to history, the pragmatic spirit of co-operation in Cardiff Bay can be seen as a precursor of later models of cross-sectoral regeneration partnerships. Michael Boyce, chief executive, has described the Bay's transformation as being 'the result of a shared vision which cut across short-term political advantage.' For most of its life, the corporation worked in harmony with the local authorities. In the final years before wind-up, the relationship with Cardiff County Council deteriorated, but that should have little impact on the long-term achievement.


 Early in the corporation's life, Neil Kinnock, then Leader of the Labour Opposition and today vice-president of the European Commission, stated that the Bay's 'unique partnership between public and private capital is a source of pride.' Recently, Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, commented:


“Cardiff Bay is a fantastic development, it has done a lot for Cardiff and Wales and I certainly support all the work that has been done.”


Political backing is strengthened by the choice of the Bay as the home of the National Assembly. Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party, has stated that, with the Assembly, Cardiff was becoming a 'real' capital. Alun Michael, the Assembly's First Secretary, has remarked that it had 'certainly put Cardiff Bay on the map once and for all.'


When Welsh Secretary, Michael told the Commons in March 1999: 'I should like to place on record my personal admiration for the great achievements of the chairman, board and staff of the corporation, in removing the legacy of dereliction in South Cardiff, transforming it into an area internationally acclaimed as a major development success and in the first rank of investment locations.


The Conservatives in Wales have described the Bay's regeneration as 'one of the successes of the last Conservative administration.' It was, though, a Tory Welsh Secretary, John Redwood, who decided in 199G that the corporation should be wound up, with an indicative date of December 1999. A Labour Welsh Secretary, Ron Davies, later decided it should cease its functions on March 31, 2000.


During its lifetime, the corporation has had grant-in-aid from the Welsh Office of about t496m, with an additional I7m of European funding. Its spending throughout has been subjected to a rigorous process of audit and the corporation regards it as evidence of sound administration that it has been always given a clean bill of health. Its corporate planning processes and procedures were cited as an exemplar by the Cabinet Office Efficiency Unit.


The private sector investment secured of  £1.14bn is close to the corporation's long-term target of £1.2bn and represents a public/private leverage ratio of  l:2.3. (The Bay area, of course, has also benefited from substantial public expenditure by local authorities.) Overall, the corporation calculates that about 80 per cent of its targets will have been secured by the time of wind-up. It estimates 13,250 permanent jobs in new and refurbished developments will have been created and another 3,500 secured.


This total of 16,750 jobs compares to an eventual target of 30,000 (about double the number in the area at the corporation's birth.) That target was set, though, in advance of a national economic recession and in the expectation that the barrage - seen as the prime catalyst for job creation - would be soon in place.


Delays over Bute Avenue - which were outside the corporation's control - equally meant that the associated office development is being built much later than expected. Overall, office and industrial development is only about half the floorspace target. On the other hand, retail and especially leisure developments have exceeded their floorspace targets. Housebuilding, after a slow start, has gathered rapid momentum. Land values have been enhanced immensely.  Visits to the Bay are approaching the annual figure of 2m sought by the year 2000, even before the leisure potential of the freahwater bay has been realised.


There have been disappointments. Not all the original schemes have come to fruition. Bute Avenue will lack, at least initially, thc proposed light rapid-transit system. The hoped-for Eastern Bay link to the M4 motorway has yet to materialise. The arrival of more headquarter operations would add to the status and stability of employment, with jobs being less vulnerable to branch office cutbacks. Local business people, while supportive of the regeneration, worry about issues such as the provision of car parking and public transport.


Despite such provisos, the revitalised Cardiff Bay is already recognised to be a thriving location for business, living and leisure. I his has been achieved even before the impact of the inland bay the centrepiece of the regeneration strategy - can be judged.


When the bay has become a lake of pleasure, and the Wales Millennium Centre has opened its doors, the corporation believes it will have succeeded in its aim of creating the most exciting contemporary waterfront in the UK and, it believes, in Europe.






Rt Hon Alun Michael JP MP AM

First Secretary - The National Assembly for Wales


“As a long-standing advocate of the redevelopment of South Cardiff I am delighted to see the progress that is being made and that the National Assembly is right at the heart of the new Cardiff Bay.


Shortly after arriving in Parliament in 1987, I found myself at the heart of debate over the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill. The purpose was to address the severe economic and social deprivation of South Cardiff and to promote the economic development of South Wales.


This was a major undertaking and substantial progress has been made in tackling the problems. More than 13, 000 permanent jobs will have been created and private sector investment of around £1bn attracted. This has brought forward a wide mix of inward investment. Visitor numbers are growing and, after a slow start, housing development is now dramatic.


Many significant infrastructure and development projects have been completed or are substantially under way. The Bute Avenue development will reconnect the city centre with its historic waterfront and further accelerate the regeneration of the Bay and enhance the image and economic well-being of Cardiff.


The regeneration of this historic part of the city will also enhance the prestige of Wales as a whole. Developments such as the Wales Millennium Centre will act as a powerhouse for the arts in Wales and raise international awareness of our identity. It will also make a bold statement about our aspirations as a nation and improve the attractiveness of Wales to the international community.


The critical mass of development is substantial and successor bodies particularly Cardiff County Council and the Welsh Development Agency will be able to build on that progress.”



The corporation is confident that, although its programme will not be fully completed when it is wound up in March 2000, the economic, social and environmental regeneration has reached the stage where the momentum can be sustained.


Crucial catalysts for further development are imminent: the freshwater bay, Bute Avenue, the Wales Millennium Centre and National Assembly's debating chamber Together, they will strengthen the national and international awareness of Cardiff Bay.


The corporation's forecast of the time needed to fulfil its vision has been always contingent upon the freshwater bay, with its anticipated stimulus to investment, leisure and tourism. The pace of future regeneration will also depend upon when other parts of the Bay's infrastructure are in place and, of course, upon the national economy and market conditions. But the corporation considers that all the envisaged development of its designated area should be fully achievable within two to three years of wind-up.


The corporation estimates that, when the development has been completed, private sector investment will have risen to £1.82bn, or 151 per cent of the target to meet its original objectives. Housing is forecast to reach 5,780 units, or 96 per cent of the target. Non-residential development should amount to 1.351m sq m (118 per cent). The number of jobs created in new or expanded developments is calculated to reach 31,000, or 107 per cent.


From next April, the strategic responsibility for continuing the process of regeneration lies with Cardiff County Council and Vale of Glamorgan Council, working in partnership with the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) and other bodies. Announcing the succession arrangements, Alun Michael, when Welsh Secretary, stated: 'I regard it as essential that the momentum of development within the Bay is maintained.'


Grant in aid to the corporation from the Welsh Office has been £34.9m in its final year. To meet inherited responsibilities and liabilities, the Welsh Secretary has allowed for a grant of up to £13m to Cardiff Council and up to £8.4m to Vale of Glamorgan Council over a period of three to five years.


Cardiff Bay cannot expect to receive large allocations of public money in future. Members of the National Assembly want resources diverted to assist other parts of Wales which are seen to have more pressing needs. The Government, however, intends to retain the Bay's Objective 2 assisted area status, which enables new and expanding companies to apply for government grants.


To prepare for wind-up, in November 1996 the corporation issued a consultation document, 'Sustaining Success.' This recommended processes for achieving a smooth handover to successor bodies and put forward options for maintaining the regeneration. As part of this consultation process, the corporation gave a series of presentations and sent the document to 139 local authorities and organisations, asking for their comments.


A full report on their responses and preferred options was then submitted in March 1997 to William Hague, the then Welsh Secretary. After the general election, Ron Davies, the new Welsh Secretary, concluded in July 1997 that the achievements of the corporation had reached the point where it was 'possible and appropriate' to pass on its responsibilities to the successor bodies, with a wind-up date of end-March 2000.


The corporation has since assessed its programmes to determine appropriate action and to ensure compliance with agreements and grant conditions. In September 1998, it reported to Davies that it anticipated that the regeneration would be self-sustaining from 2000. This expectation was based on several assumptions, some of which have yet to materialise - for example, that a start would be made on the long-proposed Eastern Bay link of the peripheral distributor road (PDR).


These circumstances were taken into account by Michael, Davies's successor as Wdsh Secretary, when in spring 1999 he announced the funding arrangements for projects planned but not yet implemented by the corporation and for other regeneration-related costs.


In autumn 1999, the corporation published a final corporate plan [No.11, plan period 1999-2000] detailing progress, priorities and project summaries.


These are the principal issues and arrangements for the succession:




Responsibility for the barrage, outer harbour and inland bay, including its public spaces, leisure uses and the monitoring of water quality, passes to a dedicated authority, appointed by the National Assembly, and run by Cardiff County Council.


Revenues from the boating and leisure activities cannot be expected to meet the running costs of the authority, which will be grant-funded and ring-fenced by the Government. Costs have been estimated at t12m per annum for the next five years.


The corporation calculates that the authority will need about 20 permanent staff, with specific functions such as lock operation and maintenance being contracted out. There is scope to enhance the barrage's landscaping at a cost estimated by the corporation to be t2.5m. (This sum has been taken into consideration in the grant allocation to Cardiff Council.)


 As part of the bay's groundwater protection scheme, the corporation arranged for over 21,000 properties to be surveyed. The scheme allows for a second survey of these properties two years after the bay's freshwater impoundment. If required, further surveys will be carried out over a period of 20 years. If a rise in groundwater damages any properties, compensation will be paid and the Welsh Secretary has given an indemnity against the cost of such claims.


Management of the Gwent Levels bird reserve, which mitigates the loss of the bay's feeding grounds, passes to the Countryside Council for Wales, a statutory body which is government-funded.




Most of the corporation's development assets and liabilities are transferred to the WDA. This includes management of the Bute Avenue Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The agency's chairman has stated that the cost implications of the latter will require the agency to have additional funding from the National Assembly.


Under the PFI, the Citylink consortium is responsible for the construction of Bute Avenue and the related offices, houses and shops. The consortium is to be paid by the Government £5.lm annually (at 1998 prices) for 25 years to build and maintain the road, after which it will be taken over by the local authority.


The corporation identifies other key projects to include the regeneration of the Ferry Road peninsula and the development of land at Pengam Green and the 'freeport' in the docklands.


The peninsula site chosen by Cardiff Council for its proposed Sports Village is being transferred to the council, with the transfer taking into account the existing development agreement between the corporation and Associated British Ports (ABP). The corporation is contributing £2m towards a replacement Empire Pool as part of the arrangements. The Sports Village will also release land for retailing, offices and housing.


At Pengam Green, about 40 acres are suitable for a large inward investment project or other industrial and commercial uses. This land will be transferred to the WDA. The 'freeport' is already in the agency's ownership. Both these sites would benefit from the construction of the Eastern Bay link.


The corporation is transferring its freehold ownership of Ocean Park and Tremorfa for £1 each to management companies owned by the tenants. These companies are in charge of the maintenance, landscaping and control of use. The corporation's responsibilities under the 'piecrust' land deal with NEG at Ocean Park pass to the WDA. Allied Steel & Wire, Short Brothers and Hollybush Properties own development sites adjacent to Ocean Park which are seeking tenants. Further sites are available for campus-style offices at the Celtic Gateway development at Ely Fields.


Some 20 acres in mixed use await redevelopment on the city centre fringe of the corporation's designated area. Because of the multiple ownerships, land assembly for any comprehensive scheme might be assisted by a public-private joint venture with compulsory purchase powers. Improvement of old industrial premises in the Dumballs Road area should be encouraged by the regeneration taking place at the southern and northern ends. Continuing grants to upgrade business premises would help this process.





The principal building in the corporation's ownership is the Coal Exchange in Mount Stuart Square. Its freehold is being transferred to the WDA. Several potential uses, including residential, are being considered but the listed building has serious structural problems. As commercial activity rises in the immediate area, it is hoped the exchange's restoration and future use will become more viable.


Baltic House, which required costly renovation after the corporation acquired it for £360,000 in 1987 as its headquarters, was sold for £1.2m to the Wales Council for Voluntary Action in 1999.


The corporation is paying for the CCTV security cameras in the area of Mount Stuart Square to be made compatible with the system in the city centre. The police will be responsible for their operation .




Four important elements of infrastructure are still required: the construction of the Eastern Bay road link; a light rapid-transit system between the city centre and waterfront; an access road to the eastern end of the barrage; and the Penarth Link, a coastal pathway.


The construction cost of the Eastern Bay link has been estimated by the Government at £158m. A government grant of £2.4m has been made towards preparation costs, including work involved in the necessary relocation of the heliport. However, a bid by Cardiff Council, the highways authority, for funding to build the road has to compete with other Welsh road schemes. It is possible that the link could be in the 2005-2010 roads programme.


As part of the planned second phase of Bute Avenue, there are negotiations over a proposed system of diesel trams to upgrade transport services. This requires the removal of the existing embankment alongside the avenue.


About £7.5m of the government funding for Vale of Glamorgan Council is earmarked for the Penarth Link. This coastal footpath and cycleway would run behind a new seawall around Penarth headland, linking the town's esplanade with the western end of the barrage.


Public access is also essential to the barrage's eastern end so that people can enjoy the views and walks from that direction. The existing private road is in the Customs-restricted docklands. An agreement is required with ABP to have a public road, fenced off from the Customs area, and a car park. This road would facilitate the development of ABP's under-utilised docklands south of Roath Basin.


As visitor and commuter numbers rise, car parking will become more of an issue in the Bay. Several vacant sites, while awaiting development, have been used for temporary parking. Future arrangements for parking are a matter for developers and Cardiff Council. As demand increases, the provision of new, fee-charging car parks will become more economically feasible.


Mermaid Quay has its own car park and a multi-storey park is to be built for the use of Wales Millennium Centre staff, visitors and office workers. Drop-off and pick-up points for coaches will be required to cope with the large numbers attending functions at the Wales Millennium Centre and events on the Millennium Waterfront.




Care of public open spaces passes in most cases to the local authorities, although Britannia Park is in the ownership of Grosvenor Waterside.


The corporation has costed the completion of landscaping proposals for Hamadryad Park at £800,000, with an access road there for Cardiff Yacht Club at an additional £500,000. (These sums have been included in the grant allocation to Cardiff Council.)


Welsh Water, part of the Hyder group, has a licence to create a nature conservation area on a former fragmentation tip at Tremorfa Foreshore. The land, in the ownership of Cardiff Council, should be open to the public in summer 2001.


At the closed landfill tip at Ferry Road, a Hyder subsidiary has a 10-year contract to collect methane gas for electricity generation. This land transfers to Cardiff Council which will be in charge of landscaping and maintenance.




A regeneration strategy for Butetown and Grangetown is being prepared by Cardiff Council. The council and other organisations will decide how to carry forward the work of the Cardiff Bay Training & Employment Group and community initiatives.


Cardiff Bay Arts Trust has produced its own strategy document, 'Beyond 2000', with its proposals for a continuing commitment to public art to the benefit of residents and visitors. 'There is a powerful case for retaining a strong public art focus in the Cardiff Bay area and in the city as a whole,' it states. (The document can be obtained from the trust at 123 Bute Street, Cardiff CF10 (iAE.)




The corporation has costed specific projects which, had it survived beyond April 2000, it would have wanted to undertake. These include: the access road to the eastern side of the barrage; a visitor centre for the barrage; renovation of the Coal Exchange; a scheme to enhance the amenity value of the Graving Docks; and reclamation of flue-dust pits at Tremorfa Foreshore to open up land for development. The total cost was estimated at £12.6m.


Other schemes which the corporation favoured include creative lighting and public art for the barrage; fishing piers into the Severn Estuary; and further landscaping to Plymouth Park at Penarth Haven.




Cardiff Council and Wales Tourist Board, with the assistance of Cardiff Marketing, will be the lead bodies in promoting the Millennium Waterfront as an integral part of the capital's attractions. The corporation believes it is vital to maintain vigor marketing to guarantee that the waterfront becomes a premier destination for national and international tourism.


A strategy will have to be devised to plan and organise future public events and to provide facilities for yachts, watersports anc other marine and leisure activities. Sponsorship of Techniquest (one of the main attractions) passes to the National Assembly's education division.


For Cardiff Bay as a whole, the corporation believes the local authorities and WDA will need to maintain a highprofile marketing strategy so that the Bay continues to compete successfully for inward investment.


30th November 1999


Dr Jim Driscoll is a partner in the management consultancy practice of

PricewaterhouseCoopers. He was born in South Cardiff and has been involved with Cardiff Bay in a variety of roles. After the closure of East Moors steelworks, as Welsh manager for British Steel Industries, he helped to create employment opportunities. From 1982 to 1985 he was seconded to the Welsh Office as industrial director and later joined Coopers & Lybrand as partner responsible for international investment and economic development.


“After the closure of'East Moors, BSI made valiant efforts to find new employment opportunities, with a degree of success. But these crisis measures were necessarily piecemeaL Nicholas Edwards, then Welsh Secretary, conceived the idea of one organisation to oversee the wholesale development of South Cardiff and to arrest the area’s long-term decline in a coherent way.


CBDC brought his vision to reality. Knowing what the area was like before, I can see the scale of the achievement within a relatively short time frame in development terms. I don't believe this could have been done without a development corporation and a clear vision of what was needed


Personally, given the cost, I never believed a barrage was a prerequisite for development. But a coherent vision was. CBDC has brought a focused, long-term, consistent plan to the area, using management techniques which other bodies would have found difficult to deploy, particularly in promotion and marketing of the vision and in clinching deals which brought major investments.


We wouldn’t have got that quality of investment into South Cardiff without the confidence inspired by the corporation and maintained with the cooperation of agencies like the local authorities and WDA. Dynamic and entrepreneurial.”