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Redesign and capacity cut confirmed for new Cardiff Bay arena

20 Oct 2023 3 minute read

Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter

The design of a major new arena planned for Cardiff Bay has been changed and as a result the capacity has also been reduced from its original 17,000.

Cardiff Council’s planning committee has approved an application to vary the design of the now 15,000-seater arena and hotel planned for Atlantic Wharf.

On top of the changes to the outward appearance of the arena, which will move away from its “lump of coal” design to a lighter-coloured building, the active travel route on site will be widened and a roundabout will be put in place at the interface with Schooner Way instead of a priority junction.

The height, length and width of the arena has also been reduced in the designs, and the building will be positioned 4m south of its original position, increasing the distance between it and the proposed hotel.

New design

Members of the council’s planning committee, which met to discuss the plans at a meeting on 19 October were largely positive about the newly-proposed design.

However, local councillors still had concerns about the potential impact of the development on Butetown. Cllr Saeed Ebrahim said: “Visitors will come and go, but residents will see the aftermath of all events.”

Chief Cllr Embrahim and his ward colleague, Cllr Margaret Lewis’ concerns were the potential noise impact on residential areas and the possibility of anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Ebrahim said he did not want residents to end up feeling like “prisoners in their own homes”, adding: “We will not tolerate anti-social behaviour in Atlantic Wharf and Butetown.”

Cllr Margaret said some residents were also concerned about the possibility that some people in the planned hotel might be able to see into their homes.

A council report on the variations to the development states the eastern arches of the arena will be illuminated during events, but the western arches will maintain a subtle lighting scheme to reduce the impact on residents.

The height of the building has been reduced by 6.5m, from 46.9m to 40.4m; its width has been reduced by 9.53m, from 101.53m to 92m; and its length has been reduced by 14m, from 162m to 148m.

An artist impression of the principal (southern) elevation of the arena before design alterations. Pic: Populous

A planning officer at Cardiff Council, Alexandra Richards, noted how the design changes and repositioning of the arena should have a reduced impact on residents.

She said: “The planning system can’t control the noise of patrons when they exit the arena. We need to have regard to that fallback position.”

The capacity of the arena has also been reduced, going from 17,000 seats when the plans were approved, to 15,348.

A member of the planning committee, Cllr Garry Hunt, said: “The capacity will be reduced. One of the strengths of this project… is the fact that we are in a sense competing with other cities and places that have similar facilities to this. Is there harm as a consequence of the reduction… of capacity?”

Ms Richards said when a reduction in the size of the arena was looked at, there was an attempt to retain the size of the seating bowl inside as much as possible.

She added: “I don’t think that there is harm in the reduction of the capacity. [It will] lessen the impact on patron noise for residents.”

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