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Cardiff Bay car park extension and improvement gets go-ahead

CGI of Mermaid Quay car park extension

Cardiff Council’s planning committee has voted to grant Schroder UK Real Estate Fund (‘SREF’), the owner of Mermaid Quay, the popular mixed-use destination on the waterfront in Cardiff Bay, planning consent for the extension and improvement of the centre’s car park.

The car park extension, which has been designed by the Cardiff office of architects Austin Smith Lord, is the latest phase in the fund’s multi-million pound strategic repositioning of Mermaid Quay, in line with Cardiff Council’s ambitious vision for the future of the Bay.

Built 20 years ago, at the same time as the rest of Mermaid Quay, it was always planned that the car park would be extended at some time in the future as Cardiff Bay grew.  The foundations and existing two levels were constructed to support a much larger structure, enabling the extension to be delivered with the minimum disruption and in an as environmentally sustainable way as possible.

Now, the car park is often full at peak times and demand for enhanced parking facilities is likely to increase with SREF’s investment in Mermaid Quay – including the new Everyman cinema which opened in December 2019. The development will also host new restaurant brands that are being introduced (including Cosy Club and Hubbox) and the new public realm project that is planned, alongside the extension to Techniquest and the Council’s proposals for an Indoor Arena and other new leisure facilities in the Bay.

Following the planning committee’s decision, work will now start on detailed design, appointments and legal matters as well as discharging various planning conditions, with a view to starting on site during 2021.  The project will take six to eight months to complete.

The car park expansion includes:

  • A high-quality redevelopment of the existing two-level car park to improve the arrival experience of visitors to Cardiff Bay, while also being sensitive to neighbours;
  • A contemporary new look, with shaped aluminium fins undulating to create excitement and interest;
  • Two new floors added to the existing car park – adding more than 300 new spaces (up to 682 spaces from 372 spaces) including:
    • 32 accessible spaces on ground floor (up from 17)
    • 28 wide parent & child spaces (up from 10)
    • 20 spaces with electric vehicle charging points;
  • New exits and a new layout to make it easier to get in to, out of and around the car park, reducing peak-time congestion;
  • A new cycle hub with parking for 60 cycles in mix of secure lockers and Sheffield cycle hoops as well as space for bike hire and repair facilities;
  • Three new well-lit staircases with two new lifts so that everyone can get to the upper floors;
  • Green wall cladding to two of the staircases – to enhance biodiversity and soften the appearance of the car park;
  • A patterned permeable perforated metal screen at the ground floor, allowing natural ventilation of the car park and visually appealing for pedestrians;
  • New signage and way-finding;
  • New lighting and a CCTV system to enhance safety and security; and
  • New improved landscaping adding to the existing trees and shrubs at the rear of the car park.

As part of the consultation process, local residents raised a number of amenity issues and fears about anti-social behaviour by car park users, which SREF has undertaken to try to alleviate via various management initiatives including enhanced security, signage, landscaping and changes to access arrangements.

Harry Pickering, Head of UK Retail at Schroders, said:

“The redevelopment of the Mermaid Quay car park outlines Schroder UK Real Estate Fund’s commitment to the Cardiff Bay area, and will be possible following the planning committee’s decision. This car park provides parking for visitors to the waterfront, including Mermaid Quay, and the wider Cardiff Bay area attractions, including Techniquest, the Wales Millennium Centre and Roald Dahl Plass. It is well used and often reaches capacity.   

More parking is, therefore, vital for Cardiff Bay and we believe that extending our existing car park is more sustainable than developing another to meet the existing demand from visitors. The car park will also provide extra capacity to support the Councils ambitious plans for further leisure facilities across the bay area, including the new Indoor Arena.