Sunday 19 May 2013
Construction started on BBC Cymru Wales' new drama production centre today, as the broadcaster revealed a rapid timetable for the project.
Initial preparations are now complete and construction starts immediately, with foundations currently being laid for the c.170,000 sq ft site which will eventually house productions including Casualty, Pobol y Cwm, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Doctor Who.
Basic building work is due for delivery from the developer in summer 2011. Once the studios, offices and external filming lots are fully fitted out, filming will begin for Casualty and Pobol y Cwm in autumn 2011, with Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures moving from their current Upper Boat studios in 2012. The first episode of Casualty to be made in Wales will be on screens in early 2012.
Meeting on site today with key partners from the Welsh Assembly Government, igloo Regeneration, Cardiff Council and construction company Vinci, Menna Richards, Director of BBC Cymru Wales, said:
"Today marks an important milestone on the journey to creating a dynamic new community here – a focal point for the creative industries whose ripple effect will be felt across Wales. As a centre of excellence for drama it will bring a brand new buzz to this historic part of Cardiff and will offer fantastic facilities and filming space to some of the BBC's best-loved productions.
"We have an ambitious timetable to work to over the next year, which we'll deliver thanks to a combination of outstanding talent and excellent partnerships. BBC Wales is delighted to be working in partnership with a number of organisations on this ambitious project."
The drama production centre plan is part of the BBC's commitment to double television network production from Wales by 2016. It is part of a wider commitment to build a BBC for the whole of the UK by bringing productions closer to the audiences the BBC serves.
Currently, BBC Wales produces drama output at two separate sites at Llandaff in Cardiff and Upper Boat, near Pontypridd, as well as a number of locations around Wales.
Welcoming the news, Ieuan Wyn Jones, Minister for Economy and Transport, described the new centre as the lynchpin for the wider development of a dynamic creative industries hub, creating jobs and stimulating community regeneration.
He said: "The Assembly Government is working in partnership with the BBC and Cardiff Council to create the optimum environment to enable this very diverse sector to grow and take advantage of the opportunities that will arise when the economy upturns.
"The Roath Basin site represents one of the most significant waterfront opportunities in the UK and our plans include a new digital media centre to accommodate a range of businesses in the sector and support future growth.
"The creative industries are a key sector and its growth forms a key strand of our new Economic Renewal Programme designed to build a stronger, more sustainable economy for the future."
Cardiff Council leader Rodney Berman said: "It's fantastic to see work commencing on the new BBC drama village here in Cardiff that, when complete, will position the capital at the forefront of the creative industries. Cardiff is already home to Doctor Who and Torchwood with Casualty to follow and I know the drama village is seen by the BBC as part of its ongoing plans for increasing its production and development presence in Cardiff which can only be a massive boost for the city.
"Cardiff is developing a very strong reputation as a creative industries hub. The development of this sector is becoming an increasingly important part of our local economy, benefiting not just the city but the whole of the region."
The site is being developed by the igloo Regeneration Partnership – an Aviva Investor's Fund and award-winning organisation which delivers regeneration while cutting CO2 emissions (through environmentally efficient building construction and occupation), providing employment and facilities for deprived communities, reducing crime, improving health and underpinning economic prosperity to a greater degree than traditional development.
Mark Hallett, Development Director of igloo Regeneration, said: "I am delighted to see the start of construction of the BBC drama production centre. This is an important milestone in the delivery of one of the most significant investments in the city in recent years. Combined with the Welsh Assembly Government's announcement of the development of a Digital Media Centre at Roath Basin, I am confident that this will be the catalyst for a new creative industries quarter in the city.
"This is a key part of a strategic vision for the delivery of a "Media Capital" initiative for Wales. I have already met with several independent media producers and organisations working in the creative industries sector who wish to locate at Roath Basin."
John Worrall, Business Development Director, Vinci Construction UK, said: "Vinci Construction UK has had a strong presence in South Wales for 40 years, and has delivered some of the city's well known landmarks such as Callaghan Square, Senedd Building and more recently Cardiff Bay Police Headquarters.
"It goes without saying that we are delighted to have been given the opportunity to continue this legacy by providing a brand new drama production village for the BBC. The new facility will not only support the local economy through the creation of jobs, but also through the cultural interest and focal point provided by a BBC production venue."
Photographs and interviews are available on request.