With Enterprise zone advantages secured by claiming Central Square is part of the "central business development", it looks as if Admiral is aiming to switch its new HQ into the middle of Central Square.
Just one problem - they want to start building in October (!), so Cardiff Council is willing to close the existing bus station a couple of years before the new one could be built. Sustainable Travel City has to take second place to mega-business, doesn't it.
What are u talking about? The Admiral HQ will be built at Bridge Street Square.
Yeah, and their Eastside Sq headquarters has been sold to a major German investment fund for something like £63 million at a yield of 6% (meaning annual rent rolls of something like £4 million).
I can't imagine they will pull out of such a deal - the fees for doing so would dwarf the savings. Although if they had been making their decision knowing this then Callaghan Sq might have pipped Eastside.
This is one of the reasons I thoroughly dislike Enterprise Zones. Just shifts things about, doesn't create new business. This would be an extreme example (literally moving an office 500m) if it did happen.
The Admiral (yet to be built) HQ was not owned by Admiral. Why would Admiral benefit or lose out if it was sold to a German beneficiary? I'm not sure I follow?
I would be hugely surprised if the German company bought the yet to be built Admiral House without extracting some sort of guarantee regarding rental yields from the developer. In order to give that guarantee the developer would want a contract with Admiral re occupancy. If Admiral breach that contract I suspect that the damages payable would far outweigh the benefit of going to Central Square.
Not to mention the fact that they may have already given notice on existing premises in the city. Plus architecture, planning, legal costs etc. Plus the likelihood of being able to move into premises in Central Square within the next 5 years is minimal which puts back expansion plans in Cardiff thus defeating the object of consolidating offices.
Karl, thanks for clarifying: thats exactly what I meant. A 25 year lease has been signed and I'm sure its customary for some quite heavy penalties to be imposed if that is broken (unless the company goes into administration, that is).
The real question here is on Max.
If you don't mind me asking, where did you hear this from ? Have Admiral signed final contracts, has there been a problem with the design delivery that has given Admiral a get out clause ? I don't know anything about these subjects but I'm curious where Max has got this from.
The rumour was that two existing employers in the city are being negotiated with. Personally I think it's more likely to be Legal & General plus another professional services/financial company that's currently outside of the enterprise zone. Principality, part of Lloyds maybe ? Don't forget, regardless of the redundancies we've heared, Lloyds still have a numbr of offices in the city , including the HBOS Card Services sites in the bay and at Pontprennau (are they still in both ?). Weren't they also looking to move some of their Pencoed call centre staff to Cardiff as well and it wouldn't shock me if they left Newport if they can get a good deal smack in the centre of Cardiff.
I have a source at Admiral and one at L&G that I'm seeing in the next day or two so I'll have a word and see if I can find out anything. Neither are in a position of influence or anything, but you never know.
Max' comments did surprise me Kyle. I thought the Admiral contract was a done deal with build starting later this year.
I echo your comments about thoughts on L&G but I doubt LBG General Insurance would consider moving from Tredegar Park, they have a well placed office there close to the motorway network and good parking. i doubt they would get anything like that sort of facility in the centre of Cardiff and rents would probably be double. GI is a standalone business unit (part of a wider division) but it is pretty much self contained on the Newport site. There would be no real reason for it to move away from its current location. Plus it would echo was Cambo has said, Enterprize zones not creating new busines, just relcoating existing business.
if only we could acquire some new business to Wales in one of these offices, a divisional headquarters of a FTSE 100 would be nice.
They're trying to get the new Green Bank HQ to be set up in Cardiff which could help move things along. But I believe that every other major UK city has applied for it also.
I think we should wait and see what Mr Wallis has to say in reply before we take this discussion further.
Either he is privy to inside knowledge (ie he knows what he is talking about), or he is plain confused by reading and hearing random half truths, or, he is winding us up because we are hungry for development news.
I don't much like the location for the new Admiral in between the CIA and Cineworld. The new business district would be preferable to me however I'd be very surprised if things changed at this late stage.
I'm not convinced by enterprise zones but the city centre could do with some structure rather than random stuff all over the place.
I think one must be L&G. I'd be surprised if the other one was Principality. They have a purpose built HQ in the Friary which they still don't fill.
I know that both Morgan Cole and Hugh James are looking to move (Hugh James is also looking to expand quite significantly according to rumours). I don't know how many people either employ at the moment although I'd imagine that if you include their various other offices both Morgan Cole and Hugh James have at least 450 on their books.
Principality don't have that many workers surely?
My guess would be Legal and General. The smaller one could be 118 118, Cardiff Bus maybe? Arriva Trains? New Law?
Some recruitment companies have a big presence in Cardiff. Could be one of them.
So what happens to the bus station?
It goes where the NCP car park is now:
more chat on this here:
Todays link also shows plans for the new public square:
as I understand it the large raised seating area will be for a restaurant in the office block and it will usually function as a water feature down the sides but can be turned off to provide additional public seating when required, eg match days. It could be a nice idea, but it is quite high and obstructs views of the station itself from some angles. I guess it depends if you think the station looks nice or not whether you like that.
Wales online say:
"Running through the Capital Square is a water feature called the Taff Wall, a reference to the River Taff, which the architects say will become a “significant and memorable landmark”. The Welsh Garden, meanwhile, is designed to be a “green oasis” offering respite and calm and the piazza will be lit up with red, furnace-inspired lighting at night."
Is a 'red light' district really the best way to give visitors a good impression of the city when they arrive at night!?
I don't understand why work has to be delayed until after the Olympics are over. The break clauses for L&G/Morgan Cole are 2014 so that means it would be an incredibly tight timescale to build something very substantial plus the bus station from Sept 2012 onwards.
We are only hosting a handful of football matches. Surely work can commence and then be halted for the two weeks of the Olympics with some funky hoardings rather than put on hold for the next 8 months? I really don't get what the big deal is about the Olympics and why normal life has to be suspended whilst they take place. We are all victims of mind control and have voluntarily given up our critical faculties. Seb Coe is broadcasting subliminal messages convincing us that spunking a cool 12 bn on a couple of stadiums and a logo that looks like Lisa Simpson performing fellatio on a Martian is money well spent. I bloody despair....
In any event if you were a vistor would you prefer to see hoardings with nice pictures of Cardiff or the Londis, Burger King, pawn broker and various charity shops currently being hosted by Marland House?
No the bus station is part of the initial scheme, I thought, opening in 2014. We would be without one for 18 months from late 2012, to mid 2014.
Where did you get 2016 from?
I read that the bus station was to get underway as part of the first phase. Once works had been done to tweak the bus box system (and assuming that Marland House and the NCP car park had actually been purchased) the demolition could begin.
The Huggard centre is nearing completion south of CS and I understand that some of the housing officers in Marland House will be moving there as soon as its ready. I don't know what type of leases there are for the shops in Marland House but they have been advertising 'flexible terms' for years. I suspect that most of them could be brought to an end fairly swiftly.
This might not all happen before the Olympics in any event but if it does and the works are ready to commence I would prefer to see cranes on the skyline as soon as possible to get some momentum on this even if it does cause upset to those poor bastards who bid for the long jump/100m/400m hurdles and ended up watching South Korea v Djibouti in the 1st round of the womens football.
Rodders has said previously that work will not commence until after the Olympics - if this is because it's not ready to start then fine. If its because Seb Coe has implanted a device in his brain that disallows the possibility of anything being more important than the Olympics then I'm a concerned council tax payer.
Thanks for the kind words Kyle - however I have to admit that the similarities between a sex act performed by a cartoon character on an intergalactic being and the Olympics logo were pointed out by someone a lot sharper than me quite some time ago.
1-Legal and General aren't Headquartered in Cardiff..that would only be a small typo as far as the Echo is concerned, but still..
2-I hate the design for the square. Why complicate things? Can't we have an attractive square with good paving, good trees and some kind of central feature? The designs look a bit like something from 2001AD.
3-I agree that not everything should stop for the olympics, but I think it would be operationally difficult, and unlike us freaks who get a kick out of construction, most people don't like it, and it would detract from their opinion of Cardiff.
Is it only me who can't see the photos of the development on the Walesonline site? :-(
Not a fan of the public realm design. There's something "New Town" about it - or maybe the combination of the square and the buildings too. Picture 2 of the slide-show is the one that has this effect the most. And what the hell is going on with picture 4? Looks like an athletics track!
I agree that something simpler, maybe a bit smaller and more intimate, with street cafes, a few shops, maybe a few kiosks.. would look better. If they want a bit of green space, do it properly as a regular-shaped park or green with a water feature.
The current ideas just seem ill thought-out, and attempting to be showy, but somehow failing.
I think the problems with something smaller, more intamate with green spaces is that alot of people move though this area, especially on match days. Green spaces would turn to mud in an afternoon, kiosks and cafes would be forced to close due to security/safety concerns. I am a big advacate of green space in cities but i think here is where any greenery needs to be kept away from foot level. I also think that the main gateway to the city should have a grandure and not be intamate, wanamby street should be intamate, not central 'square'. I do agree that the images above of the square are not ideal, something simpler could give more gravitas to the area, and mean less maintenance over time meaning the area stays crisp and clean. Why not just inlay the Welsh dragon in slate and coal into the ground with some fountains that come out of the ground? I would like to see the entrance to the city reflect Cardiff and its status as capital of Wales. I like the idea of steps being used to provide seating for waiting train passengers during match days, maybe the temporary barriers put up for waiting passengers on match days could be inlaid into the ground, reflecting Cardiffs connections to the rest of Britain and Wales when there isnt a match on at the stadium. There are lots of thing that can be done with this site, i just hope the links between central square through the office block to the new bus station are good, and not treated as "keep it secret, keep it safe".
The photo does indeed look like a running track. Even more reason to get the project ready before the IOC roll into town. Perhaps the visitors can have a quick jog around the track waving an IOC flag as soon as they arrive?
Sometimes less is more. I'm not sure when it was decided that public spaces had to be 'innovative' and 'interpretive'. If I hear one more design being described as reflecting the maritime history of the city or the history of coal mining I'll vomit into my copy of Architect Weekly.
Surely the main aim is to ensure that the public space is used by the...er... public. Find out what works in other cities, make sure its accessible, thats its safe, follows the natural routes of circulation, use good, hard wearing materials and provides a space that people want to spend time in rather than an obstacle course that does nothing other than prove that an architect- sorry urbanist - somewhere is 'thinking outside the box'.
It's fine to constructively criticise it but remember how long we've been waiting for something to be done with Central Square.
Something is better than nothing in most cases. Think of the prevailing climate in Cardiff. If these public realm "things" wern't there, then the area would probably be a grey-flagstone, windswept version of Callaghan Square but with more people milling around.
I don't want to be a pessimist but my concern would be that the height of the buildings could cause an awful lot of shadowing. It'll all be rather dark when one of the good things about Central Square at the moment is that you walk out of Central Station into sunshine (in the two-week Welsh summer).
I hope that the renders of the square are just an Artists Impression of what could be. I find the pictures to look more suburban shopping centre than a gateway to Wales' capital city and the plans are not innovative, brave or grand enough.
The use of slate in the area could work but I think it has been overdone, also the maritime theme has done it's part, but again not ideal for this area, but I do think water should play a part, given after all it is a port city.
I am not sure if it will, but the square should be part of a design competition, inviting architects nationally and internationally to submit design ideas and then choose a winner.
I have a vision inspired by William Burges, but also ties in the Marquis of Bute of a brightly coloured, rich reds, greens and golds incorporated square will large water feature, seating and pockets of greenery.
The square should be something that says "Welcome to a Capital City' whereas the current design says 'Welcome to Cwmbran'. It doesn't have the impact or scale that it should.
It certainly is a vast improvement on the status quo, and I do think that this needs to be sorted out ASAP, but not rushed and fudged.
Like Jantra, I don't think the plans are as bad as some have suggested here. I don't even think they are all that busy, as they are spread over a reasonable area. Ok, the running track looks the weakest bit, but I suspect in reality it would be less in your face than the images suggest.
The funnelling of people through the space might actually be to stop the front of the office building being right in the main route for pedestrians, trying to give it some shelter from the traffic for the cafe frontages and office space.
I guess the images are all from the position walking towards the station because the (more important) view out of the station would involve showing what the two new buildings would look like, but actually that is probably the work of a different design team and may be far from complete.
As you have said the quality of the materials and the design at ground level will determine whether any scheme is considered a success. This is an area that often has been undervalued by developers in Cardiff.
Slate is a lovely rock but personally it can be a little overwhelming when massed as outside the Senedd. There are other rocks available in Wales including granites, limestone and sandstones and their use in the scheme should also be encouraged.
While open space is definetly to be welcomed it also rains. Is their any sign of a covered walkway to the new bus tation or shelter around the shopping area?
Finally I assume that all taxi pickup will be from the south side of the station in which case those richer rail patrons with more influence will not get to experience this more impressive entrance to the city?
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