Cardiff calls on UK Government to back city's COVID recovery plans


Delivering a New York-style ‘Highline' connection joining Cardiff city centre to the Bay, restoring Cardiff Market's Victorian grandeur and creating a new Youth Zone in Ely are just three of the projects Cardiff Council is developing as part of the UK Government's ‘Levelling Up' programme.

The programme is calling on councils to place bids for the first-round of its four-year, £4.8bn Levelling-Up Fund, designed to kick-start projects and help areas across the UK revive after the pandemic.

Local authorities can bid for money for one project per parliamentary constituency, plus one other transport-related project. This means Cardiff can bid for up to five projects in total covering Cardiff Central, Cardiff South and Penarth, Cardiff West, Cardiff North, and the additional transport project.

A report to Cardiff Council's Cabinet on Thursday, June 17, will recommend that the Council bids for money for the following projects:


  • The ‘Highline' connection between the city centre and Cardiff Bay (Transport bid);
  • The restoration of Cardiff Market (Cardiff Central);
  • Delivering a new ‘Youth Zone' for Ely (Cardiff West);
  • The Taff River Corridor project - opening up Cardiff's waterfront (Cardiff South and Penarth);
  • A new nature-focussed visitor attraction at Forest Farm (Cardiff North).

If approved by Cabinet the Cardiff Market bid will go forward for round one of the fund bids. More detailed development work will then be carried out on the other projects before submission in later funding rounds.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Huw Thomas, said: "We are calling on UK Government to back these proposals. We have been working on several ideas in the background for some time and this opportunity to secure investment could help us kick start these projects, bringing jobs and delivering a vital boost to the city as we look to renew and revitalise Cardiff and begin our recovery from the effects of the pandemic. These are schemes which could really help communities and businesses across the city. UK Government has already recognised that Cardiff is a Priority 1 area in need of levelling up, so it's vitally important they come on this journey with us and back these plans."

The first round of bids have to be submitted by June 18 and it is expected UK Government will make an announcement on successful bids later in the year.

Cardiff's proposals in detail

The Cardiff Bay Highline - Transport project

Transport-led scheme which falls into the category of ‘exceptional' proposals that allow for £50m of funding from the Levelling Up Fund.

The Highline project would provide a comprehensive transport and regeneration scheme with a new tramline running from the city centre across Callaghan Square, Lloyd George Avenue and Bute Street, through Atlantic Wharf to Pierhead Street. At the heart of the scheme is the creation of an urban park which would take up a significant part of Lloyd George Avenue and which would reconnect Bute Street to the rest of the Bay area opening up access through or over the railway wall, which currently divides the communities on either side. The Highline would deliver a new, green, active travel route and create a destination in its own right between the city centre and Cardiff Bay. The scheme will also enable the extension of the Metro establishing a new tram/train link between Cardiff Central and the Bay. In addition the project would also see investment in and around Bute Street as part of a wider development programme totalling over £100m of investment, of which the Levelling Up bid would only form part.


The Taff River Corridor - Cardiff South and Penarth

A project designed to open up and help take advantage of Cardiff's riverfront which would see new bridges for pedestrians and cyclists connecting communities on the east and west of the Taff between the city centre and Channel View. The Taff Corridor project will help create new areas of green public open space along the water's edge, as well as leisure and commercial opportunities, better connecting people with the riverfront.

As part of this project the need for three strategically important bridges in Grangetown have been identified. One at the new Brains Brewery development, Central Quay, one at the new Vastint development on Dumballs Road, and one at the council-led development at Channel View  which will provide much-needed new, high-quality council homes alongside affordable homes.


Forest Farm - Cardiff North

A new nature-focussed, family-friendly, visitor attraction in the north of the city at the Forest Farm Country Park that showcases the best of outdoor Cardiff. Forest Farm Conservation Centre is currently home to the council's community Park Rangers Service and acts as a hub site for environmental volunteering across the city's parks and green spaces. This proposal would see a new visitor attraction, renovation and upgrading of existing buildings, provision of outdoor space for families to enjoy, new facilities for visitors and improved spaces for local residents and communities to use.


Cardiff Market - Cardiff Central

This project will concentrate on the restoration of the Grade Two listed Victorian indoor market elevating its status as a tourist destination and key attraction for shopping, food and drink. The project will restore both the interior and exterior of the building enhancing entrances and original features. Restored markets are increasingly a central element of the city tourist infrastructure. In places like Madrid and Lisbon their key markets are among the most visited attractions in the cities and elsewhere in Europe smaller cities are also developing their market offers as key visitor attractions.


Youth Zone - Cardiff West

Working with a charity called On Side, the youth zone is a new facility for young people in the West of the city that will be staffed by skilled and dedicated youth workers who will help provide local young people, aged between eight and 19, or up to 25 with a disability, affordable access to high-quality sports, arts and leisure facilities and activities, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. The offer will be complemented with targeted services which support employability, wellbeing and health. Its aim will be to help young people from economically disadvantaged areas to lead positive and fulfilling lives.


Cardiff Council will also be submitting projects from partner organisations worth around £800k to the UK Government's Community Renewal Fund for 2020/21. This £220m UK-wide fund is for projects which invest in skills, local business, communities and place, and supporting people into employment. However, unlike the Levelling Up Fund, Cardiff is not seen as a priority area by UK Government for this fund. Nevertheless, the council sent out an open call for Community Renewal Projects and the authority has since worked with groups and organisations to put forward bids for projects focussing on enterprise support, employment support and investment in communities and place. Project bids range from £5k to £215k. These projects will be assessed by UK Government which will make a decision later in the year.