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Historic canal which played key role in Cardiff’s industrial development to reappear

17 Dec 2020 4 minute read
A map of the canal area

Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter

The east of Cardiff’s city centre is set to completely change with an old canal reopened, redesigned main roads and a new public space.

If new plans go ahead, the canal underneath Churchill Way will reopen, four main roads will see new layouts, and a public square with an events space will be built. Work could begin as soon as next summer.

The Dock Feeder Canal which runs under Churchill Way was constructed around 1840 in order to supply water to the Docks in Cardiff Bay so that they could be operated even at low tide.

Cardiff’s old canals before being covered up

This allowed Cardiff’s docks to operate 24-hours a day and played a key role in the development of the city’s industrial economy.

The canal would reopen underneath the top half of Churchill Way, running from Queen Street to North Edward Street.

The area would form a new green public open space, with trees, shrubs and benches, a performance stage and covered outdoor dining area. The taxi rank currently there would move further down Churchill Way, near the Motorpoint arena.

The canal is a key part of the plan to reduce flooding in the city centre, a growing threat to Cardiff due to climate change and rising global temperatures. Sustainable drainage techniques around the canal would be used to soak up excess rainwater.

The plans to revamp how people get around the east of the city centre are part of Cardiff council’s wider goals of reducing air pollution, cutting carbon emissions and preventing floods.

Details were revealed as part of a new public consultation on the plans, which would cost £13 million to build. Residents and businesses have eight weeks to respond to the consultation on the website.



Four main roads — Stuttgarter Strasse, Boulevard de Nantes, Dumfries Place and Station Terrace — would see wider pavements, segregated cycle lanes, and priority bus lanes.

Wildflowers would be planted on top of bus stops along these roads, to attract bees and other insects, helping biodiversity. Pedestrian crossings would also be made larger and safer.

Access to the area for drivers would change, with access to Churchill Way from the south only, while car parks on Station Terrace would be accessible from the north. Access for deliveries on Queen Street would change to Windsor Place, leaving the street from the west end only.

The public square would be built off Kingsway and Boulevard de Nantes. The underpass to City Hall would be filled in, with a new, large pedestrian crossing on ground level. Significantly more trees and plants in the area would also help prevent flooding, soaking up excess rainwater. The square would see an outdoor dining area and events space.


In May last year, the council began a public consultation on improving air quality in the city centre, reducing traffic and cutting dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions. These plans led to the big changes on Castle Street and new pop-up cycleways elsewhere.

Councillor Caro Wild, cabinet member for strategic planning and transport, said: “Since the initial public engagement exercise took place in May last year, the council has taken on board all of the comments that we have received.

“We have been working hard to draw up the detailed design and we are now in a position to engage with the public on the final scheme. Following this public engagement, we hope to start on site in summer 2021.”

The scheme would cost £13 million to build, including £3 million of city deal funding. Full details of the plans can be found on the consultation website.

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