A five-year plan to re-imagine and re-vitalise Cardiff city centre in a post-pandemic world has been published by Cardiff Council.
The plan, which is designed to bring partner groups and stakeholders together from across the city to help realise the vision, will focus on nine key themes:
- A fully curated (managed) city centre which is clean, safe, green and attractive to all.
- A dynamic business and employment hub delivering more job opportunities.
- A city centre which lies at the heart of a fully-integrated transport network.
- A green and bio-diverse city centre.
- A centre which contains excellent urban design and public realm.
- A ‘blue city centre’ which makes use of its rivers and canals.
- A vibrant centre to live, work and play in.
- A centre focussed on great cultural offerings.
- A city centre which offers a quality experience to visitors.
The Leader of Cardiff Council, Cllr Huw Thomas, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic had an extraordinary impact on city centres across the UK and indeed the world. It changed the ways we live our lives and do business. The shift to homeworking and the acceleration and use of online purchase has hit the retail sector in city centres. In many ways it has forced us to consider those longer-term trends, which were already coming down the track, but have now been accelerated because of the pandemic.
“However, far from these trends sounding the death knell for city centres we feel they offer exciting opportunities to evolve. Cardiff’s city centre supports 70,000 jobs and is critical to the local, regional, and national economy. This are some of the reasons why we are embarking on a journey to look at ways in which we can revitalise Cardiff city centre in a post-pandemic world. We want a city centre that continues to be safe, clean, green, attractive and well maintained, but we also want it to become greener and even more welcoming. A city centre that offers visitors, and people who live here, great experiences in high-quality settings and a city centre which creates new job opportunities.
“Of course, Cardiff has already been on a process of successful change over the past 25 years. Our city centre has seen transformational improvements from major leisure, retail and business developments – such as the Principality Stadium to Saint David’s Dewi Sant and the regeneration of Central Square, through to increased pedestrianisation of its streets making the city more inclusive and accessible. But as the city emerges from the pandemic it is essential that we consider the steps we need to take to accelerate recovery. Our aim now is to build upon the city’s existing achievements, to create a vibrant destination, part of a great capital city which works for all residents, businesses and visitors.”
The action plan outlines the key initiatives and programmes that Council and partners will work towards over the next five years to ensure Cardiff has a vibrant city centre. It was drawn up following a series of public consultations on the Council’s Greener Fairer Stronger report which was published last year.
A series of engagement events took place from June to October, including several child-friendly events to gather the opinions of young people alongside those of residents, business, the cultural sector and other stakeholders. A survey also produced over a thousand responses which was used to help prepare the five-year plan..
World-leading expert on cities, Dr Tim Williams, played a key part in helping to compile the report in preparation for consultation. Dr Williams, who has 20-years-experience working nationally and internationally developing urban and city management policies for major metropolises like London and Sydney, says Cardiff is well-positioned to take advantage of the many opportunities a post-Covid landscape will bring.
Writing back in June, in the Taking Cardiff Forward After COVID-19 report, Dr Williams, said: “Cardiff entered this global crisis in good shape and it can emerge, with the right spirit, strategy, collaborations and innovation, even stronger. In so doing it can provide even more benefits for both its own community and that of the City Region. Cardiff can succeed after Covid, delivering a better standard of life for its residents alongside an economic programme for a ‘green’ and technology-based recovery.
“There’s an opportunity, galvanised by Covid-19, for Cardiff to become an exemplar for a city of its size. Building on its established and continuing strengths, the ambition it has to succeed, the skills and imagination of its people and the leadership it has already shown, Cardiff will not just ‘bounce-back’ – of that there is no doubt – it will ‘bounce-forward.”
Cllr Thomas added: “In the future the most successful cities will have great city centres. This action plan outlines key initiatives and programmes that the Council and partners will work towards over the next five years to ensure Cardiff has a great City Centre. Cardiff has a strong tradition of working in partnership with private, voluntary and other public sector organisations and the initiatives/programmes will need the continuing active participation and collective buy in of all city centre users to achieve the highest standards in sustainable design, development, management, maintenance and marketing. This plan we hope will make a great and vibrant city centre even greater.”