Magazine article Management Today

The Taming of the Tiger Bay: The Focus of Cardiff's Rebirth Is the Mud Flats in Its Bay

Magazine article Management Today

The Taming of the Tiger Bay: The Focus of Cardiff's Rebirth Is the Mud Flats in Its Bay

Article excerpt

THE TAMING OF TIGER BAY

A briefing form Major-General Barry Lane CB OBE, chief executive of the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC), is a faintly surreal experience. 'Here,' says Lane, martially tapping a blown-up aerial photograph of the Bay with a telescopic pointer,' is the new Opera House.' A glance through the office window reveals the remains of a marshalling yard. 'Here,' [tap] a mixed housing development.' (Derelict dock site.) 'Here, [tap] five acres of light industrial factory units.' (Council rubbish tip.) One begins to have one's doubts.

But one shouldn't. In a perverse sort of way, the relative invisibility of the CBDC's regeneration of Cardiff Bay may well be a token of its eventual success. In a recent FT Welsh survey, the author concluded that the Bay's development had 'never really got going' in the four years since the CBDC's inception. That is, in a sense, the point. A glance from the Ft's own windows would reveal a dockland regeneration scheme that has 'got going', as evidenced by two-mile traffic jams, acres of cheap speculative office building and walls daubed with advertisements for Class War. Unlike the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC), the CBDC has decided that slowly, slowly catchee relocated financial services HQ's come to service the WDA-induced South Wales industrial boom. Their logic is that private investment will follow adequate public investment in infrastructure, a compelling enough argument.

Unlike the LDDC, too, the CBCD has been given no Draconian planning powers, which means that all development schemes - including Associated British Ports' 6-hectare flagship project, Capital Waterside - have to be approved by two politaclly opposed councils, South Glamorgan and Cardiff City. This in turn means that potential blips are ironed out before committee stage according to Lane without any consequent blurring of aims.

A nice example of this is the Bay's planned peripheral distribution road (or 'Necklace of Opportunity', in local PR hype), which threatened to cut the 2,700-acre site in two. After discussion, it was decided to bury half of the road in a cut-and-cover tunnel, which will stop potential polarisation, but which will also free up land otherwise lost for CBCD reclamation and re-sale, a case-study in turning commercial swords into civic ploughshares. …

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