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02Aug91 UK: CARDIFF BAY BARRAGE - CARDIFF BAY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION GOVERNS STRATEGY FOR AREA AROUND BARRAGE.

One of the prime movers behind the development of Cardiff's bay area, and joint promoter of the original bill through Parliament to build the barrage, is the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation. It was set up in 1987 by the Welsh Office in order to put together areas for development, and to plan a strategy for the whole area.Central to this strategy is the barrage itself which will create the right environment for CBDC to attract developers.Its marketing manager is Martyn Edwards, who believes Cardiff Bay is different from other development corporations.'The aim of the corporation is not just to deliver areas of land, but to do it where the land will deliver investment,' he explained. 'We don't want to sterilise the land.'This could easily happen if the corporate acquired land in its zone of operation, without finding suitable developers to make proper use of it.At the moment the corporation owns about 400 ha, although some of that is water. Mr Edwards estimates that there is something like 200 ha of development land which has been bought by the corporation, together with 57 ha which already has development in place.Although there are a few other land, owners in the bay area, the largest of which is Associated British Ports, the corporation is on the way to implementing its plans.'We are well on course to having a stranglehold and doing what we want in land terms,' said Mr Edwards rather ominously.The total area covered by the Development Corporation's plans is the equivalent of two thirds that of the London Docklands. One of the main differences, however, is that there is still a very active docks area, as well as industrial, commercial and residential areas which have to be taken into consideration in the longer term plans.'Our main strategy aim is linking the city with the bay,' explained Mr Edwards, as he emphasised that the bay is not to be thought of as a brand new city going up on the outskirts of the existing Welsh capital.'It's the interaction between the two which gives it its special feel.'The corporation's plans have suffered two setbacks simultaneously during the past year or so - the downturn in development caused by the recession, and the delay to the construction of the barrage as a result of the private bill being talked out in the Commons.Mr Edwards acknowledges the effect of these two factors, but is not totally downhearted.'I think interest rates will keep dipping,' he said, 'and that means that development will come back gradually.'South east Wales will pick up ahead of some other areas. We haven't suffered so much of a drop back in property prices and we've not had the overprovision, so there is the potential for an early start out of the recession.'As for the other factor, he does admit that particular development areas, like the Peninsula are 'more specifically barrage-related', but believes that the barrage is not the be all and end all of the Bay project.'The important thing is for people to understand the strategy and what we're trying to do to take Cardiff forward, and then they'll see the barrage as an important part of that.'There's nothing mystical about it. It's a part of the strategy, like the distributor road. It must happen and I'm damn sure that it will happen, although I would have preferred to see it earlier.'