Plans approved for new arena at Cardiff Bay and redevelopment of Atlantic Wharf
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Plans have been approved for a new indoor arena at Cardiff Bay and the wider redevelopment of Atlantic Wharf.
The 17,000-capacity indoor arena will be built on the current site of the car park at County Hall and part of Schooner Way.
Construction work is due to begin this summer on what forms one of the major projects of Cardiff council, with the arena due to open in early 2025.
Councillors on the planning committee granted permission for the arena on Wednesday, March 16, as well as the wider redevelopment with flats, hotels, museums, offices and more.
The arena will be built by developers Robertson Group and operated by Live Nation and Oak View Group, who said 1,000 jobs would be created and millions of visitors brought to the city.
Elliot Robertson, Robertson CEO, said: “The planning department’s decision to grant planning permission for phase one of the development underpins the council’s commitment to regenerating Atlantic Wharf into a vibrant visitor destination within Cardiff Bay.
“We look forward to working with our partners to create a new destination that will not only breathe new life into the Bay area but will support local businesses and create new employment opportunities throughout the city.”
Graham Walters, chief operating officer of Live Nation UK venues, said: “We are delighted with this decision, one of the most significant and landmark developments in the region for some years, and we look forward to delivering our vision for a new arena with our partners and Cardiff council.
“A world-class arena, with a global reputation for culture, will transform Atlantic Wharf for local, national and international visitors to Cardiff, as well as facilitate job creation and economic growth in the region.”
The wider development area covers 13.5 hectares, covering County Hall and its car park, Red Dragon Centre and its car park, parts of Hemingway Road, Schooner Way, Lloyd George Avenue and Silurian Park.
It includes 890 flats, hotels, offices, a replacement Red Dragon Centre, museums, tourist attractions, a multi-storey car park with 1,300 spaces, and a public square.
Currently, only the arena and a 182-bed hotel behind it have full planning permission, with the rest of the wider development given only outline permission. This means further planning applications will be made in future, with full details, for each part of the redevelopment.
The main entrance to the arena will be from the south of the building, from a new public plaza created on Hemingway Road, which will be closed.
Mark Donnelly, chief operating officer at Oak View Group, said: “It is exciting that the plans for a new arena at Atlantic Wharf have been approved by the council. We are now looking forward to working together with our partners and the local community to give Cardiff and Wales the top tier arena they deserve.”
Cllr Russell Goodway, cabinet member for investment and development, said: “The new indoor arena will be a top UK visitor attraction and act as a catalyst for further investment in Cardiff Bay. The financial benefits that it will bring to Butetown and the wider area will be significant with up to 2,000 jobs needed during the construction phase and a further 1,000 jobs created once the Atlantic Wharf masterplan is delivered.
“The Atlantic Wharf masterplan will see significant improvements made to the public realm and to public transport links to the Bay. The importance of the new arena cannot be understated, it will kick-start the next phase of regeneration in Cardiff Bay. Today’s planning committee decision brings us closer to delivering a new indoor arena which could be open for business by 2025.”
The design of the arena was not welcomed by all councillors on the planning committee, with some criticising the lack of bicycle stands and “dreary” black cladding.
Cllr Keith Parry said: “This looks really very dreary. As an addition to Cardiff Bay, it’s a very poor, black building.”
Chair of the planning committee, Cllr Keith Jones, said the black design was supposed to “represent coal and Cardiff and Wales’ past”.
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