As I gaze across the Bay towards Cardiff Docks I have realised that since I arrived here nearly 5 years ago how the shipping using the docks has lessened.
At first there was a constant flow of ships in and out, several petrol tankers, an occasional chemical tanker and many small ships picking up genral cargo. There was a regular liner service of container ships every 5 or 6 days.
Now there a very few ships, the most frequent visitor being the regular small container ship from Ireland. There are one or two petrol tankers also.
Can Cardiff Docks continue like this - or is the whole area ripe for development ?
I have a view into them and they are used quite frequently, how this compares to 5 years ago i cant say but its very rare to not see a ship moored up.
As one who frequently sailed into Cardiff and works the whole South Wales Coast I may be able to Shed some light, though this is purely observations over a good few years.
Milford Haven is mainly petroleum Products. Feeder tankers load and distribute Petrol, Jet Diesel and Gas Oil to Cardiff and Avonmouth. A regular run for us would be 5000 ton into Cardiff, 10,000 ton into Avonmouth every 6 days say.
Swansea, Barry we never call at anymore and I suspect are just about shut down.
Port Talbot is only for large bulk carriers bringing iron ore.
As stated, Newport can cater for larger ships and has one other great advantage - transport links. This is why it is the preferred port for container ships and timber.
Avonmouth feeds England, containers and fuel. Portishead is a larger dock and is frequented by Car Carriers.
Apart from very small ports such as Gloucester and Sharpness this leaves Cardiff, which was really only a major contender in the Coal Days, pop into the Pierhead building for more on that. In the late 60's and even into the 80's I used to bring General Cargo and Timber in. It seems there is still enough trade to keep both basins open.
Don't forget we have the second biggest difference between high and Low water in the world and entering Cardiff is a tricky business.
As I have said, these are just my observations, if you wish to read Associated British Ports version click here http://www.abports.co.uk/Our_Locations/South_Wales/Cardiff/
Cardiff, Newport and Bristol have a big advantage over Port Talbot and Swansea as they are closer to the main markets and shipping goods by road is far more expensive than by water, even over 40 miles.
Barry and Cardiff as Jacktar makes clear have big tidal ranges and narrow locks, they are tricky. But none of the ports can take the big container ships from the far east the future still lies with felixstowe and Southampton as far as the UK is concerned.
As a kid I had fun working for a short time on the survey ship Shackleton that used to operate out of Barry and you get a different view of the world when in the Channel overnight waiting for the tide. The tidal current is shockingly swift and it surprised me how often people were lost at sea. It must be one of the most dangerous jobs around. Merchant seamen deserve far more respect than they get.
Having lived in Barry it always amazed me how the Geest ships squeezed in with literally inches to spare, how at the height of IRA they unloaded ammo ships and the protection was a couple of plods, you could trespass on our bikes right up to the unloading and no one batted an eye.
The World has changed a lot in 40 years but if we wait another 40 perhaps the docks will come back into use when sailing ships are resurrected.
I remember many years back i sailed out of gosport on a 42ft sloop and we were sailing to france however the weather turned and before we sailed back into port the weather was Beaufort force 7. I remember the weather reaching Beaufort force 8 when we were in gosport and i remember when i went ashore the shore felt like it was rocking as if i was still at sea. I remember tying down a jib sheet on port for deck and every wave we hit i'd fly 2ft off the deck on my knees.
Funny thing is the best tan i have ever had was from the salt water and wind during the week i spent there
There is a change going on in the docks. Planning permission has been granted to change the use of the large area next to the container port into an industrial unit - and a large shed is currently being built. Not as pretty a sight as tall buildings but a promising use of the docks area.
Ladies and gentlemen I declare the silly season open!
A group of Architects under the name "Imagine Cardiff" have drawn up a master plan of how the Bay may look in the future, featuring trams, a huge floating stage, an enormous train station to replace the current one and a 2km long man made beach!
“It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to all come in one lump sum unfortunately, but it’s going to be a case of working hard and selling our concept,” he said.
“What we want, whoever you are, whether you’ve got money or are just a member of the community, is for you to come and talk to us. That’s where you’ll find the funding, not through some mystical bank account. That’s what is going to take the time.”
As I say, silly season is open!
we must have discovered oil off flatholm. whereas it is nice to have ideas, you also need the folding stuff to make it happen. Cardiff and Wales has little of either. The only way this would happen would be if we went back to Westminster and begged them to take us back.
What the hell is a bloody "4G marina"?
If this was the Council firing off one of its numerous pie in the sky press releases I'd be rightly cynical.
But it's actually from a group of architects in the city (or so I gather). It might well be unaffordable or in some cases undesirable but I do like the fact that there appears to be a greater engagement in the built enviroment. I'd like to see more people interested in architecture, what gets built in the city, what the city should look like, where it should be heading, how to improve standards.
It seems to me that too often the way in which development gets talked about in Cardiff is in the negative ie. lets stop something because we don't like it rather than try to improve it.
The more people are interested in the way the city looks (rather than can I see a field from my bedroom window, will I be able to drive my car unimpeded etc) the more likely it is to see the quality of the built enviroment driven upwards.
At the moment I think it's too easy for developers to build shit in Cardiff. I think it's because we have quite a weak civic society for want of a better expression. Whilst the DCfW has helped to bring developers to task and the majority of their recommendations are sensible and lead to improvements I'd like to see more people getting involved, even if its more people posting on more forums like this.
Economics plays a part of course but if you look at the Mann Island development in Liverpool compared to say Callaghan Square the difference is huge in terms of quality. Cardiff probably has a more vibrant economy than Liverpool but the difference at what gets built is sometimes staggering. Spinningfields in Mcer is also a different class. I get the feeling that there is very little pressure in Cardiff for developers to up their game whereas perhaps elsewhere there is maybe a bit more civic pride and an awareness of the built enviroment/architecture which is wrapped up in the city's identity.
So pie in the sky and completely unaffordable as they may be I welcome these type of proposals because at least it means some people in the city are thinking big.
excellent post Karl. agree with most of it (not the bit about Liverpool but that wasn't your point so i'll park it for another day).
In some respects I think our council and WG are under pressure 'to do something' and as such they would prefer lower quality to be built rather than something a bit more fitting to our aspiration. Examples include the AA building, St William house and hubbard Centre. Who in planning allowed any of that through - key buildings in our city centre right next to the train station. not only that but the likes of Zurich having a car park right in front...which other city centre manages to take office blocks and make them look like business parks?
so in some respects I think it is the council/WG looking for businesses to locate at any cost and as such we cannot be too choosy with the civic form as it develops. That's my take on it anyway.
economics also plays a part. Cardiff struggles to command £20 sqft so if you're a developer looking for a decent return in Cardiff you're going to have to factor that in to build cost.
I really do think we need to get away from this notion that (i) Cardiff is a capital (ii) being europe's (2nd) youngest capital actually means anything (iii) having international destinations means bugger all if you don't actually have any international visitors or business (iv) we really have wealth of our own.
Whilst we dream of better things, the stark reality is that this sort of development costs money. Now either we want the investment, in which case we have to remove the bureaucracy and make Cardiff far more attractive than anywhere else in the UK or we accept that whilst we are a bureaucratic statist mess businesses will generally give us a swerve.
as an example, planning takes too long. we have just had the LDP released having not had one for a number of years. That resulted in developers going back and for CCC, WG, the courts all before development could get off the ground (if at all). that sort of situation does nothing for development and growth. This is fine if you're a left wing socialist who dreams of providing jobs via the state but it does nothing to develop your own infrastructure.
I wasn't really making a (direct) point about economics. That's probably for another time. I was talking about having some sort of civic voice for Cardiff that holds development up to scrutiny as a counter balance to the seemingly dominant anti-development stance.
If you look at the buildings you directly reference one (St William House)was built by Rightacres. They are a Cardiff company and to my knowledge have never developed outside the city. If they are going to build it's going to be in Cardiff. And yet they come up with that. Planners let them get away with and they probably think that's the level for Cardiff anyway. There is no pressure on them to address an expectation of what Cardiff's built enviroment should be. If you look at their website they express pride in their developments. Sadly I don't think it's corporate bullshit either I think they genuinely believe it. And why not if there isn't a benchmark that they should try to reach?
The second is the Zurich building. They had their operations in Cardiff so there was little danger of them building elsewhere anyway. Once again the developers were allowed to build something that belongs on a business park in Neath Port Talbot BC. I can't be certain but it seems to me that neither the planners, the developers or the clients actually considered if these buildings were suitable for their location. The building ruins the potential for any sort of streetscape developing and effectively condemns Tresillian Terrace to being an interest free zone for many years. Where was the pressure on them either directly by critiquing the design or indirectly by expressing civic pride or articulating what Cardiff should expect.
I'd disagree that people need to forget that Cardiff is a capital. I think they need to remember. I'm constantly told that Cardiff is like a collection of villages, has the most green space anywhere in the UK, is surrounded by lush countryside etc. It's invariably the argument of those opposing development that houses/offices/shops will destroy the rural feel of the place or increase traffic to unmanageable levels or make the city too busy.
What that means is that they want the benefits of living in a capital city without any detriment. They want the WMC and a vibrant city centre and parks and the Bay developed but they don't want Cardiff to grow or lose it's 'villagey' feel. Development destroys the way they like things even if it does create economic opportunity for others. Chage is worng unless its for their benefit. It's a small town mentality which unfortunately is reflected in some of the architecture that we are prepared to put up with.
That's why I like the fact that a bunch of people who are in the business of building and development and therefore maybe in a position to influence clients are trying to think big and get a conversation going. There is no difference in the relative unaffordability of an urban beach or a floating stage in the Bay and the 'country park' that has been half heartedly proposed by the Save our Reservoir group in Llanishen and I suspect will now be quietly dropped now they have got their way. The difference is that in the first instance the outlandish idea's have been instigated by a desire to improve the city and create debate as to how the city should develop in the future. In the latter instance the country park idea (which actually could be a decent idea depending on how it is implemented) was adopted in order to stop development and to preserve something that has been chronically under utilised for many, many years. Essentially the positive versus the negative.
I agree that Cardiff can't expect the Shard, the Gherkin etc etc. That's not really my point. It can develop a voice and encourage debate about the type of city we want and how it should look which may help raise standards in development even if only incrementally.
you speak a lot of sense Karl. my comment about Cardiff not being a proper capital was meant as a reference to the fact that we don't really have the status of a capital (yet) that some would want us to have. We certainly can't compete with the likes of Dublin, London, Edinburgh or London and probably come ahead of Belfast due to its recent history.
We could utilise the capital status and in that respect the civic form needs to resemble Cathays Park more than Callaghan Square / Tresilian Way (in terms of ambition and quality of materials and design). But by saying we're a capital will not make such development happen. so in that respect we need to stop thinking we're a capital and start thinking that we have to develop the wealth ourself as it won't come to us.
I also think a lot of the problem stems from the fact that many people in Wales hardly travel extensively beyond our borders. We have a lot of civic pride but one thing is constant is that most if not all people come back to Cardiff and comment on how the two gateways are a real eyesore and letdown. I am not just talking about those who are interested in civic pride and development either but people in general.
There are some in Wales who believe that all is rosy and that Cardiff is a wealthy city - this may be the case in the Welsh context but that is not really raising the bar. Wales is de facto third world and Cardiff is its capital. Cardiff thus is relatively poor and whilst we all want to improve its form and appearance the only way we can do that is by creating the wealth within the city and Wales. until people appreciate that we need wealth creators and the business friendly environment and government to promote it then we're just going to be left with a designers in tray full of pretty renders and concepts and very little in the way of actual activity.
Jantra - I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you regarding rents have an influence on the quality of office buildings but Karl's comparison with Liverpool is a reasonable one. Their city centre rents are generally between £16.50-£20 per sq ft. I also think you're being too highly critical of the Welsh as a mass; most people I know are fairly well traveled (although not from Cardiff Airport ).
Other than that I completely agree with you regarding the need to make Wales more business-friendly to attract inward investment.
Karl - spot on with everything you've said. It is great that people are willing to get involved. Haven't had time to read over the proposals but a bit of ambition is fantastic!!
I perhaps didn't articulate myself as well as I should. Liverpool and merseyside are probably twice as large as Cardiff and South Wales respectively. For that reason Liverpool will have 'twice' as many projects or the same amount of projects but of better quality. Per capita Cardiff may even do better but given liverpools critical mass it's going to have more of an offering (see peel holdings development of the docks).
I also want to clarify the point about being well travelled. Those who are well travelled appreciate Cardiff and Wales have a long way to go to catch up. Those who aren't so well travelled beyond our borders see Wales in a different light to the rest of us
I am extremely well traveled and Cardiff is a great place; in terms of business we have a long way to catch up, but in terms of tourist offerings and leisure facilities and just the ambiance of the city it is well ahead of many UK cities and international ones.
The comments made above do not apply just to Cardiff but to most UK cities. Major changes have occurred in the last 120 years. Business used to be locally owned and wanted to make a statement on permanence and wealth, buildings were one of the main ways to transmit those ideas. Business that is now being attracted to UK wide destinations is not local in nature and has more effective means of transmitting their business messages. The building is rarely important except to be an efficient factory. Many business buildings are no more than sheds with metal/brick cladding. Modern buildings are treated as temporary in any case, part of the throw away society. How many of Cardiff's post-war buildings have been torn down, Rapport and the BBC Llandaff being the next to go?
Housing is another area where quality is and has been reduced and clone town designs and names for developments used. Dropped into any modern estate at random and you would find difficulty in telling where in the UK that you were. Cardiff's Victorian housing tends to be distinctive because a few large estates developed the land
The only buildings of quality that no identify where you are, are those "iconic" attractors, Millenium Centre or Celtic Manor for example, business has largely dropped out of that particular race in part because few businesses own the buildings they occupy.
Local activism has a place but honestly it will only tinker at the edges. Money is the driver and no one has it at present.
But it can help. Foreign tourists spend a lot of money in the cities that they stay in. According to Cardiff council's own stats 18m visitors stayed in Cardiff in 2012, a 3% rise on the previous year, spending £1bn in the city which is also up 3%. The vast majority of these 'tourists' are in fact day trippers, shopping was their main expenditures with roughly £137m being spent in 2012 (not sure if that's alot?) with indirect spending being around £333m but I'm not quite sure what that means.
If we can get more non-domestic tourists to stay in the city then the spend will increase. I can't remember where I saw it, but Australians spend the most money in the city when they visit apparently.
The point I was trying to make is that tourists can help pay the bills, but they have to be the right type of tourists. Domestic day trippers don't really spend much. A few pints down the pub or a new dress whilst foreign tourists will spend more on food, drink and tacky Millennium Stadium fridge magnets. Anything to diversify the offering to draw more people here to spend their hard earned £ is a plus for the city.
I found an old story from march this year i thought was very interesting.
It's statistics about how much booty is shipped via welsh ports.
Cardiff handled 2 million tons.
But what gets me is it's been said welsh GDP is so low that our £28 billion or whatever it is we get in the annual budget is subsidised. Yet when i think wales has a population of about 1/19th of the uk how is it our ports import about 20% of all uk imports. Indeed Milford Haven alone imports 9% of all uk imports (48.7 million tonnes) and most of that is oil and liquefied natural gas which i would think due to it's volatile nature makes it a more specialist item for a port to handle and thus more value.
And i know it's a tiny part of wales GDP but with other projects like Airbus at Broughton in Flintshire it all adds up.
I choose These jobs in perticular as according to the League table of official UK salaries 2012 these are some of the highest paid. And maybe i'm wrong but i feel the numbers just don't add up.
The numbers do add up. GVA per capita is the value of goods and services produced in Wales is divided by the whole population. Two factors hit Wales straight away:
- a lower share of our population is working age (a higher share is pensioners)
- a lower fraction of our working-age population is in the labour force, and we have slightly higher than average unemployment
Together this means fewer workers contribute to our GVA. Once you adjust for this you go up to something like 83% of the UK average I think.
Then although we have some high skilled manufacturing, we probably have less than in many parts of the country (especially hi-tech stuff, which is often based around the South East).
And on the services side of the economy, we lack the top jobs in finance, law, accountancy, property etc. More of our service-sector jobs are in the public sector, and in lower-wage things like call centres, retail, restaurants, hotels.
Household incomes in Wales hold up a bit better because of some commuting over the border. And because of the redistributive tax and benefit system in the UK.
Know this is an aside, but wanted to reply to Jefferson.
Interesting about the 20% figure though!
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