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The jewel in Cardiff Bay's crown


THE CARDIFF International Sports Village is being built on a 33 ha tract of land in the bay to the south-east of the Wales Millennium Centre and the Welsh Assembly Building.

Having hosted a variety of industrial facilities over the years, including an oil terminal and a landfill site, it was heavily contaminated ? one of the reasons a project to regenerate this area has taken so long to get off the ground.

Earmarked by the council over 10 years ago, the remediation and revetment project was designed and managed by Arup and carried out by Taylor Woodrow under a £16 million contract, finishing last September.

A massive programme of decontamination, drainage and land compaction, together with a retaining wall that allowed the reclamation of a large area of shore, added £8.9 million to the value of the site.

The site was levelled and a huge soil swap took place, relocating the highest quality remediated land to residential developments.

The first project to start on the site was Victoria Wharf, a Taylor Woodrow development of 478 apartments in seven blocks, which vary in height from six to 13 storeys.

The work of arch itects Holder Math ias, the towers feature a distinctive fin and sail design. A mixture of driven cast in-situ and CFA piles support the steel-framed buildings, which face the bay on one side and the River Ely on the other. Building works are due to complete in June 2008.

Sporting chance A joint venture of Laing O'Rourke and Chiltern Infrastructure is midway through a £18 million contract to provide primary infrastructure for the Sports Village development. The road element of the scheme is 35 per cent complete, and the contract to provide a new £2 million substation has just been let.

A Morrisons supermarket is currently half-complete, being built by Mowlem.

March 31 heralded a major milestone.

'A range of contracts signed that day saw a development value in excess of £300 million committed to the project, ' says Kevin Doyle, Cardiff International Sports Village development manager.

These include a further £68 million of retail space now being let by Bridehall Developments. The first major store to go on this area is a Toys 'R' Us, as the current city centre store is being demolished to make way for the St David's 2 shopping centre. Another 12,000 ft of retail space remains to be let.

The largest part of the £300 million figure comes from the acquisition of a large area for residential development by Bay Pointe, a subsidiary of City Lof ts Group. The 5.2 ha space will provide 1,127 residential units.

Detailed planning permission for the first phase will be submitted in the next six months, with construction taking place over the next six or seven years. City Lofts bought out Allied Developments, its original partner in Bay Pointe, but the latter remains as projects manager on the scheme.

The village is justifying its name with a range of sporting venues. The first to break ground will be a £23 million swimming pool to be built by Laing O'Rourke for developer Orion Land and Leisure.

In addition to a 50 m pool, which will be used by athletes training for the 2012 Olympic Games, there will also be a 25 m leisure pool with slides and flumes. The pool is funded by the residential developments and is guaranteed to go ahead in its current form.

Orion is also the developer behind a casino, its attendant hotel, restaurants, bars and the rest of the sporting facilities.

Whether or not Cardiff is permitted to play host to a casino is in the hands of central Government. Licences will be awarded by the end of the year.

'Our bid has gone in and we understand it has been recognised as a strong one, ' says Mr Berman. 'We're hoping the Government will be persuaded to award a number of licences to regional casinos ? our chances will be much better if there is more than one.' According to pundits, Blackpool is leading the race for a regional casino, but among the 30 plus other bids, Cardiff believes it stands a good chance.

The scale of the sporting developments and the speed with which they are delivered is dependent on the casino.

The city's current ice rink ? home of the Cardiff Devils hockey team ? is being demolished to make way for city centre shopping. A £2.5 million temporary rink with seating for 2,000 people is being erected on the Sports Village site by Ice Associates.

Even a snow dome Permanent developments will include a public ice rink and a 4,000-seater arena that will play host to boxing, basketball, concerts and conferences, as well as events on ice. A whitewater rafting and canoeing centre is planned for the banks of the River Ely as it flows into the bay, and Orion is also looking at the possibility of a small snow dome.

'Space is limited but it may include a snow slope, an ice climbing wall and a grotto for children's parties, ' says Mr Doyle.

The revenue the casino brings would provide a welcome boost to the project but the council is keen to emphasise it is not a make or break factor for the development.

'With the casino, work will be completed by 2010 ? without them it will take unt il 2015, ' says Mr Berman.

'If there is no casino there will st ill be all the facilities but in smaller formats, ' says Mr Doyle. 'Ou r or iginal tender f rom Or ion did not feature a casino. This will be the default position should the bid for a casino fail.'