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Cardiff Bay Redevelopment Investigation Essay, Research Paper

Cardiff is a city steeped in history and has undergone many changes and influences over 1500 years; initially with the settlements of the Celts in 500BC, and over many years Cardiff became a Roman Fort and Norman stronghold. In 1810 Cardiff was just a growing village of less than 2000 inhabitants surrounded by heavily tidal marshland and fed by two rivers, the Taff and the Ely. Laying closely to the south was Butetown, located in the Parish of Saint Mary?s. Back then, Cardiff?s main industry was the mining and transportation of coal, mainly by big 25 tonne load barges. As the Industrial Revolution swept over the British Isles, demand for coal grew considerably. The Glamorganshire canal, which was built in 1794 to transport iron from the Merthyr ironworks to Cardiff, could not cope with the strain and as the iron and coal industry expanded the Taff Vale Railway was opened in 1840 to offer an alternative mode of transport for this and to connect the Cardiff and surrounding steelworks to the coal.By this time John Crichton Stewart the 2nd Marquis of Bute had finished his development of the bay and had just opened the West docks. The building of docks continued untill around 1907 when the last dock, the Queen Alexandra had been built adding to the previous four. The opening of the West Docks gave Cardiff an advantage over other Welsh ports and soon coal from the nearby South Wales Coalfield was being used and exported along with iron and steel, whilst various products including oils and tin were imported. The city prospered, industry exploded and unemployment was rare. The Cardiff docks soon transformed the bay and village in to an important, bustling city attracting big business, hundreds of workers and a whole new close-knit community known as Tiger Bay. In the Coal Exchange building the international price for coal was confirmed and the world?s first ?1 million deal was struck. At one time at least 50 different nationalities were represented in Tiger Bay, most of these people lived and worked in Butetown aboard the ships, in the steelworks or engineering and repairing. The residents of Tiger Bay certainly felt connected to the rest of the world – it was the economic capital of Wales. Many of the old residents comment on how life in Butetown was ?hard but lively?, there was plenty of things to do, the community was vibrant and there were many clubs and events run by the residents.In the Butetown community there were different noticeable areas; firstly the original housing of Victorian and Edwardian architecture for the wealthy and affluent, and later on, the working class homes, closer to the industrial areas. Business peaked in the bay area around 1910 when around 13million tons of coal were being exported from Cardiff docks. It seemed impossible at the time that the decline of Cardiff Bay could come about so soon, but the possibility of war was looming.The Decline of Cardiff BayThere were a few reasons behind the dramatic decline of Cardiff bay, it was a decline business prosperity overall wealth and the sense of community. Cardiff had always been hinged on its coal industry, it was surrounded by steel and ironworks and one of its main exports was coal. The productivity from the South Wales Coalfields had past its prime around 1920 and productivity was dropping constantly, which had a detrimental effect on the exporting from Cardiff Bay. This was greatly compounded by the fact that petrol was now being introduced as an alternative means of fuel and demand for petrol and petrol-burning industry superseded that of coal.During the war periods also, exporting lines across the Atlantic to other continents had to be cut off due to the German enemy ships and so forcing other countries who would have received their coal, steel or iron from Cardiff to seek out alternative sources nearby. Most of these countries never came back to Cardiff after the war.Cardiff and Butetown were not nearly as prosperous as they once were and this was reflected in the state of the Tiger Bay area. Housing was deteriorating and the number of slums had increased, brothels became prevalent and there was less and less maintenance on the area, amenities and roads. As time moved on, the old housing was replaced by council housing, high-rise flats and estates in the 60s, 70s and 80s extending out west to the village of Penarth. Unemployment was on the increase, the standard of living was declining and the crime rate soaring.The Redevelopment of Cardiff Bay and Its EffectsThe housing present in the 80s slowly began to deteriorate further whilst the city of Cardiff grew and thrived, it had a population of over 300,000, yet became more and more detached from the history of Butetown and the bay area. With the overall decline of standard of living in Butetown, last British government decided to reunite the two areas and regenerate the dilapidated and run-down docks. The Cardiff Bay Redevelopment Corporation was set up, charged with this task, and it set about putting Cardiff back on the world stage. An area over 2,700 acres – 1/6 of the whole of Cardiff was deemed, ?ripe for development? and was slowly transformed in to, ?a superb environment in which people want to live, work and play. The plan was set to re-unite the two characters and histories of Cardiff City and Butetown, something which has really made physically possible by the new Lloyd George Avenue, running from the heart of the bay to the city centre resembling something of the Champs-Elysee.With the funding from the Government and Europe, re-development has made way for approximately 30,000 new jobs and 419,000 sq ft of land to be invested in and constructed upon. The best of the old buildings have been preserve so as to not completely lose touch with the Tiger Bay history, the most famous being the Pierhead Building which will now be used for state occasions and used by the Welsh Assembly. Around this same area, a whole host of new offices, housing and leisure facilities have sprung up attracting big businesses and a boost to the city?s economy. Millennium Waterfront has opened up the Cardiff Bay to the new lake and the retail parks alongside, and there is now an ?oval basin? which will be used for public events acting as a forum, and you are able to walk right up to the water?s edge. There is also a five-star Hotel on the bay, business parks and the educational science centre, Techniquest.Social EffectsSoon, the old high rise flats, a lot of the council housing and what remained of the old community were cleared out to make way for more expensive housing around the old East Docks, the new Atlantic Wharf and the new Penarth Marina. There are two main, contrasting views on the state of the old Butetown; the CBDC basically thought there was dire need of redevelopment, it was poor, bleak and run-down. The older residents who could remember the original Butetown had a slightly more ?rose-tinted? view, that there was a bustling and diverse, friendly and fun working community. The increased focus on the new Butetown Cardiff Bay is starting to make some of the residents protest about how their whole surroundings are becoming ?touristy?; they highlight the massive shopping, leisure and retail complexes designed to attract the tourists and residents and their cash. There are now projects to further connect the bay to the city; firstly, plans have been drawn up for a Light Rapid Transit System as a means of public transport between the two places opening and freeing up access to the City centre. Secondly, the Peripheral Distributory Road is in place, offering much better access to the M4. Funding for the connection on the East side to the M5 however, has totally dried up; this would have been a very valuable asset to the bay area for both tourists and residents as is the LRTS and existing PDR.The bay?s Barrage has also caused protest from some of the residents, some of which have formed CRAB (Cardiff Residents Against the Barrage) who object to this project as the ?200 million spent on this is pointless and could be better spend on other projects elsewhere. They also point out that this, together with the new, massive retail, industrial and leisure complexes, the redevelopment is encroaching on residential areas creating an unwelcome cross-over between them. Naturally, CRAB and the Residents Association think that the CBDC are not taking them in to consideration. Another example of the CBDC?s apparent lack of consultation was the moving of people out of the old, deteriorating council housing to make way for some of the leisure facilities in the heart of the old Butetown. To the west of Cardiff Bay is a new, large estate of housing, based around the Penarth Marina. These, generally expensive homes were designed with attracting the employees of the big businesses which have invested in the area and have had massive office complexes built. Most marina-based houses cost in the region of ?200,000. This sudden influx of middle-class jobs and residents has created a great change to the socio-economic groups of the area, which are differentiated by level of income to the household. This is re-inforced by the nearby village of Penarth, mainly consisting of ?blue-collar? council housing estates; with income from surrounding industrial businesses.Environmental EffectsThere are many projects drawn up by the CBDC that have to take environmental issues in to account. Probably the most obvious and biggest would be the Barrage. Before the barrage, Cardiff Bay had a huge tidal range of 14m, one of the world?s greatest, rendering the bay unusable for up to 14 hours a day. The Barrage would totally remove the effect of the tide which has inhibited development and would allow for a 500 acre freshwater lake filled by the neighbouring rivers to be used for water sports and as an added leisure facility. The Barrage also features 5 sluice gates to control the lake?s height and gates (to he right of the picture above) that tilt vertically to allow passage of boats. Levels of oxygen have to be controlled in the bay, which is aided by constant dredging of the bed whilst the lake is in its early days.Although then new lake will eradicate the problem of sewage in the bay which was present when the bay was mainly mudflats; one of the effects of the barrage has been to significantly raise the surrounding water table. This could create great risks of flooding for housing that is in the vicinity of the lake, and those with underground cellars. The flooding of these mudflats also got rid of the wetland habitat used by 6000 seabirds and waders throughout the year which were forced to find other feeding and nesting grounds.The creation of the Peripheral Distributory Road has acted as a gateway for people into Cardiff Bay causing many more roads to be laid to cope with this surge. Increased traffic levels will therefore be present, and as The redevelopments have attract a huge amount more people, the air pollution levels will become a problem which will probably escalate. In the west, the new Penarth Marina estate is also of environmental concern; the estate was built on the remains of an old refuse site which was used for many years and was centre for refuse of Cardiff Bay. Concerns have arisen due to the toxic chemical found around the north of the marina due to materials deposited here. Action has been taken to control the passage of chemicals by concrete walls, and the possibility of the chemicals finding their way in to the water system is ever-present. There have also been measures taken to burn off dangerous methane a little north of the site, his will take pressure off the risks of the area and make it generally safer for construction and further development.Economic EffectsThere has been an awful lot of economic changes to Cardiff Bay, obvious as soon as you arrive. Economic changes were top on the bill of the CBDC when they first started re-development. Currently, there are massive areas devoted to the business and industrial side of Cardiff Bay. The quality of the surroundings and the facilities, also the presence of good housing provided an excellent setting for a burst of inward investment and attraction of new companies. Workers would live in the nearby accommodation and their places of work would be just up the road. In their spare time, they could make us of the new leisure complexes and retail parks and even do a spot of water-skiing or sailing in the bay. These proposed 30,000 jobs were designed for middle-class office workers; very different from times past in the bay. There is now very little industrial work; offices overtaking them, as there is more money to be attracted by the businesses than factories due to changing demand for goods and services in today?s world.The character of Cardiff naturally makes it a bustling tourist city, this is now augmented by the unison of the city and its historical bay, attracting huge amounts of tourists together with their money. There is certainly enough places where this can be spent thanks to the leisure complexes mentioned before containing a whole host of sports facilities, cinemas, bars and clubs, all of which are very close to the array of pubs and restaurants and of course the lake itself. The lake created by the barrage has been designed no only for its aesthetic merits but also the attraction of watersports and water activities, giving access of these to tourists, workers, visitors and residents of the area; but of course, all this comes at a price. These facilities are already boosting the economy, identity and people?s perceptions of not only Cardiff but of Wales as well. Cardiff, thanks to its re-developments has become more of the centre and hub of Wales; all Governmental proceedings will take place here, in many new buildings. The Millennium Stadium also has become a focal point for major events in the city. Cardiff and its bay now seem to be blooming.Further Development SuggestionsIn terms of future development, I think that re-development has changed the face of the bay considerably; socially, economically and environmentally. There would be few thing that I would change. After the completion of all construction, I think there would be growing concern about the levels of air pollution due mainly to the huge surge of vehicles on the roads. This would be present due to the better connection of the area to Wales, Cardiff and motorways, and the tourists, workers, residents and lorries that use them. I wouldn?t want to change the motorways significantly as they are important. Maybe better and quicker access to motorways in the east, yet would this only heighten the problem? I would monitor road usage and air quality and apply traffic calming if needs be to the inner areas and few of the major roads. When drawing up plans to construct even more roads, I would scrutinise them to make a compromise between traffic/pollution calming and ease of access, probably erring on the environmental side.I think that Cardiff Bay is attracting mainly middle-class office workers for residence in its homes. I also think that there would be a large market for residential areas for more of these and those who are on a slightly lower income also. There are the perfect facilities surrounding them which would attract a lot of people. Countering this, land prices may be too expensive to enable this and so the lower income housing may not be able to be put in to plan.Maybe as an extra income window, some of the sites that gave Butetown and Tiger Bay its history could be opened up or re-constructed as another tourist attraction. The old docks and way of life could be depicted, and the novelty of having so much historical activity in a small community can be used through a tour of the bay where people can make a direct link to the past as these were the actual scenes of events.

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