South East Wales

Cardiff council urges business support for city masterplan

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Media captionFour locations have been earmarked for a possible convention centre

A new convention centre and transport system linking Cardiff city centre with the bay are proposed in a masterplan for the Welsh capital.

Council leaders appealed for private sector backing as they presented the scheme to business leaders.

The plans are part of a wider objective to plan and manage the expansion of the city centre southwards to the bay.

Russell Goodway, Cardiff council's cabinet member for finance, said the city had to be ambitious.

'Turning point'

The green paper consultation, called Rebuilding Momentum, is in effect a wish list of what the council would like to see with few details on timings and costings.

It includes a new convention centre and indoor arena with four potential sites: the current County Hall site in Cardiff Bay, the Red Dragon cinema complex nearby, the site of the Brains brewery and Callaghan Square, which are both situated close to Cardiff's central railway station.

Also included in the wish list is a proposal for a light rapid transit system linking the city centre with the bay, and an upgrade of the city's central rail and bus stations.

Mr Goodway said: "Cardiff is at a turning point. If you look back at the last 40 years, every 20 years Cardiff has had to refresh its ambition.

"We've got to be ambitious about what this capital city is going to do because either Cardiff is going to drive the Welsh economy or Bristol is going to drive the Welsh economy and we are in competition.

"We have to understand that in an age where nation states lack the influence they used to have, it's our cities which compete against one another for business, for people and for skills.

"It's at times of greatest challenge, when the economy is on its backside that the public sector has to come to the fore with ideas and inspire businesses, that it is worth investing in the future of this city because down the line they're going to make their returns."

Population growth

The proposals will now go out to consultation for six weeks before the council provides more details in the spring.

Much of the success of the plans will depend on the support of the private sector and the Welsh government, which said it would consider investing in any proposals put to it by the council.

Image caption The Wales Millennium Centre could be followed by more landmark buildings

The green paper included an interesting snapshot on the state of the economy in Cardiff.

In the decade between 2000 and 2010, manufacturing employment halved, while the biggest increase in employment came in financial services, which now employs around a quarter of the city's workforce.

It says that while Cardiff experienced significant growth in the private sectors in the late 1990s, its performance has been dipping for a number of years. The council estimates that the population of the city will rise by more than a quarter over the next 13 years.

And Mr Goodway responded to the criticism which has been levelled at the city in the past from neighbouring local authority areas that too much investment is focused on Cardiff.

He said: "I can see that they will think that all the sexy schemes seem to be located in Cardiff and they want a bit of that action.

"The important thing is to convince people living outside of Cardiff, and to convince their political leaders, that actually investing in Cardiff will create a workplace for a million and a half people who will then go and spend that money back in those communities and that's what is going to keep those communities alive."

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