Cardiff’s five-year plan to revitalise its city centre post pandemic

A five-year plan to re-imagine and re-vitalise Cardiff city centre in a post-pandemic world has been published by Cardiff Council.

The plan, which is designed to bring partner groups and stakeholders together from across the city to help realise the vision, will focus on nine key themes:


1.A fully curated (managed) city centre which is clean, safe, green and attractive to all.

2.A dynamic business and employment hub delivering more job opportunities.

3.A city centre which lies at the heart of a fully-integrated transport network.

4.A green and bio-diverse city centre.

5.A centre which contains excellent urban design and public realm.

6.A ‘blue city centre' which makes use of its rivers and canals.

7.A vibrant centre to live, work and play in.

8.A centre focussed on great cultural offerings.

9.A city centre which offers a quality experience to visitors.


The Leader of Cardiff Council, Cllr Huw Thomas, said: "The Covid-19 pandemic had an extraordinary impact on city centres across the UK and indeed the world. It changed the ways we live our lives and do business. The shift to homeworking and the acceleration and use of online purchase has hit the retail sector in city centres. In many ways it has forced us to consider those longer-term trends, which were already coming down the track, but have now been accelerated because of the pandemic.

"However, far from these trends sounding the death knell for city centres we feel they offer exciting opportunities to evolve. Cardiff's city centre supports 70,000 jobs and is critical to the local, regional, and national economy. This are some of the reasons why we are embarking on a journey to look at ways in which we can revitalise Cardiff city centre in a post-pandemic world. We want a city centre that continues to be safe, clean, green, attractive and well maintained, but we also want it to become greener and even more welcoming. A city centre that offers visitors, and people who live here, great experiences in high-quality settings and a city centre which creates new job opportunities.

"Of course, Cardiff has already been on a process of successful change over the past 25 years. Our city centre has seen transformational improvements from major leisure, retail and business developments - such as the Principality Stadium to Saint David's Dewi Sant and the regeneration of Central Square, through to increased pedestrianisation of its streets making the city more inclusive and accessible. But as the city emerges from the pandemic it is essential that we consider the steps we need to take to accelerate recovery. Our aim now is to build upon the city's existing achievements, to create a vibrant destination, part of a great capital city which works for all residents, businesses and visitors."

The action plan outlines the key initiatives and programmes that Council and partners will work towards over the next five years to ensure Cardiff has a vibrant city centre. It was drawn up following a series of public consultations on the Council's Greener Fairer Stronger report which was published last year. You can read more about that herBuilding a Greener, Fairer and Stronger Cardiff in a post- COVID world (

A series of engagement events took place from June to October, including several child-friendly events to gather the opinions of young people alongside those of residents, business, the cultural sector and other stakeholders. A survey also produced over a thousand responses which was used to help prepare the five-year plan..

World-leading expert on cities, Dr Tim Williams, played a key part in helping to compile the report in preparation for consultation. Dr Williams, who has 20-years-experience working nationally and internationally developing urban and city management policies for major metropolises like London and Sydney, says Cardiff is well-positioned to take advantage of the many opportunities a post-Covid landscape will bring.

Writing back in June, in the Taking Cardiff Forward After COVID-19 report, Dr Williams, said: "Cardiff entered this global crisis in good shape and it can emerge, with the right spirit, strategy, collaborations and innovation, even stronger. In so doing it can provide even more benefits for both its own community and that of the City Region. Cardiff can succeed after Covid, delivering a better standard of life for its residents alongside an economic programme for a ‘green' and technology-based recovery.

"There's an opportunity, galvanised by Covid-19, for Cardiff to become an exemplar for a city of its size. Building on its established and continuing strengths, the ambition it has to succeed, the skills and imagination of its people and the leadership it has already shown, Cardiff will not just ‘bounce-back' - of that there is no doubt - it will ‘bounce-forward."

Cllr Thomas added: "In the future the most successful cities will have great city centres. This action plan outlines key initiatives and programmes that the Council and partners will work towards over the next five years to ensure Cardiff has a great City Centre. Cardiff has a strong tradition of working in partnership with private, voluntary and other public sector organisations and the initiatives/programmes will need the continuing active participation and collective buy in of all city centre users to achieve the highest standards in sustainable design, development, management, maintenance and marketing. This plan we hope will make a great and vibrant city centre even greater."

You can read the council's five-year plan ‘Creating a Great Capital City Centre here Issue - items at meetings - City Centre Recovery Vision (Response to City Recovery and Renewal Strategy, Mission 1: Reimagine the city centre) : City of Cardiff Council (


How the council and partners will work to deliver a curated city centre that's safe clean and green

1. Establish effective curation/management resources. Take a more direct role in proactively managing and coordinating the future of the city centre to reflect the needs of residents, workers, businesses and visitors.

2. Establish effective partnerships with the Business Improvement District and key partners including residents.

3. Make the city centre clean, safe, green and well maintained a core priority.

4. Develop a clear five-year plan and vision for the city centre to coordinate: Public, open and green spaces, Events, markets and street animation into a year-round programme, City centre marketing and branding, All licensing regimes.

5. Create an integrated city centre funding programme to support the key actions in this plan. 6. Work with community safety partners to make the city centre feel safer for families, women and visitors.

7. Establish high-quality design standards for shop frontages, public spaces, street furniture and all aspects of the environment.


How the council and partners will work to deliver a dynamic business and employment hub


1. Create a world class destination business city centre, with a selection of high quality, sustainable, innovative and flexible office and co-working spaces that attract and grow knowledge-based businesses.

2. Develop proposals for meanwhile uses and incubation spaces, providing a dynamic approach to ensuring that empty units, retail and office spaces are used productively.

3. Support the development of more flexible and low-cost space to help indigenous and independent businesses grow and become more productive.

4. Develop a ‘smart city' digital infrastructure programme.

5. Develop a business events strategy that showcases the city's competitiveness and establishes a programme of activity.

6. Seek to expand the city centre's designation to be better integrated with Cardiff Bay and key locations such as Tudor Street, James Street and Newport Road.

7. Develop proposals for and complete major developments in the ‘Central Business District' (CBD), including at: Central Square, Central Quay, Callaghan Square, The Canal Quarter and Cardiff Bay.


How the council and partners will work to deliver a world-class transport network

1. Work with partners to complete the Central Square Transport Interchange and upgrade the Cardiff Central (Metro Central), Queens Street and Cathays railway stations, delivering high quality accessible ‘gateway' entrances into the city centre.

2. Deliver plans for a new Metro tram link between the city centre and Cardiff Bay, including the provision of new station facilities at Cardiff Central and Pierhead Street, as the first phase of the development of Cardiff Crossrail. Phase 2 will then continue to Newport Road and Roath Basin. 3. Create an enlarged ‘clean air' pedestrian and active travel core to the city centre to be developed alongside the new transport interchange delivery.

4. Connect the city centre with high quality segregated cycle and bus networks. Develop new ‘bus hubs' in key locations at Greyfriars Road, Churchill Way and Pierhead Street.

5. Integrate high-quality visitor services and tourist information into new transport facilities, including the Transport Interchange and Metro Central.

6. Develop a new city centre taxi/loading/parking masterplan.

7. Open up access to and the use of the River Taff as a transport corridor, including developing proposals for three new walking/ cycling bridge crossings at Central Quay, The Embankment and Channel View to improve integration with nearby residential areas.

8. Make Cardiff an exemplar for zero carbon transport including electric vehicle (EV) charging and EV public transport throughout the city centre.


How the council and partners will work to deliver a city centre of world-class urban design and public realm

1. Prepare a streetscape design guide for the city centre, consolidating and updating existing guidance to ensure that new and existing streets, spaces and buildings are developed to high quality architecture, landscape and biodiversity standards.

2. Develop a programme of streetscape enhancements to upgrade and declutter, creating streets and spaces that are safer, more attractive and more accessible for all users.

3. Encourage commercial premises to upgrade building/shop frontages and to raise design standards, focusing on historic buildings and Conservation Areas (e.g. Castle Street frontages). 4. Regenerate Cardiff Market as a great destination linked to the network of historic arcades.

5. Create a new Capital City High Street with an enhanced public realm, including greening, art, wayfinding and amenity spaces, following the historic central ‘spine' from Cardiff Castle, through High Street/St Mary Street, Callaghan Square and Lloyd George Avenue, terminating at Cardiff Bay and the Docks.

6. Develop proposals for new landmark squares and public spaces at the Canal Quarter, Callaghan Square, Central Quay, University/ Cultural Quarter, The Embankment, Mount Stuart Square, Boulevard de Nantes and Westgate Street.


How the council and partners will work to deliver a green and biodiverse city centre

1. Better integrate existing major parks (Bute Park/Cathays Park) and green spaces with the core of the city centre through traffic calming measures and improved pedestrian connectivity, including through the Castle grounds and its west/ clock tower gate.

2. Seek to keep the Castle grounds open as a public green space.

3. Develop a green asset plan and work with partners to fully green the city centre (contributing towards Coed Caerdydd) through large scale interventions such as street greening, increased tree planting and the installation of green roofs/ walls on new/redeveloped buildings, through to smaller scale works such as the inclusion of planters in all street cafés.

4. Work with partners and developers to deliver a network of new public green spaces across the city centre, including developing major new parks at: Callaghan Square, Lloyd George Avenue and the Taff River Embankment.

5. Turn grey areas of impermeable paving green (and blue) through the increased provision of rain gardens/sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDs) as part of a comprehensive programme of retrofitting across the city centre. Develop new landmark schemes like the award winning Greener Grangetown in the city centre, Riverside and Cathays.


How the council and partners will work to deliver a ‘blue' city centre of rivers and canals

1. Create tourism/visitor active travel trails along and around Cardiff Bay, the rivers Taff, Rhymney and Ely, Cardiff Lakes (Roath Lake and Llanishen/Lisvane Reservoirs), the Dock Feeder Canal and the Coastal Path.

2. Work with partners and developers to deliver a network of new public waterfront corridors across the city centre, including developing major new water parks at: The Canal Quarter (along Churchill Way) Lloyd George Avenue (returning the Bute Dock West Canal)

3. Create new river bridges at: Channel View, The Embankment (Dumballs Road), Central Quay and Ely Mill. Deliver a new multimode road bridge at Llanrumney (Ball Road). Refurbish Black Weir Bridge.

4. Explore the opportunity to create ‘continental style' waterfront open spaces at Cardiff Bay, Channel View and Black Weir Bridge.

5. Develop a 10-year river, water and flood plan for the city centre to help ensure that it is resilient to flood risk and also maximises access to the great existing and new water opportunities across the city.


How the council and partners will work to deliver a great and inclusive city centre which is great to live and play in

1. Seek to provide a wider range and choice of family accommodation across the city centre/Bay with supporting facilities.

2. Establish a regular engagement partnership with residents and user groups.

3. Commit to making the city centre safer, cleaner, welcoming and more attractive for people of all ages and backgrounds.

4. Develop an equalities and all ages access strategy, supporting the city's Age Friendly City strategy.

5. Work with the Welsh Government's Transforming Towns programme to support in city centre regeneration schemes, street frontage improvements and public space enhancements.

6. Develop a fully child friendly city centre including the provision of play opportunities in new public spaces.

7. Create great food destinations, with high quality street markets, restaurants, cafes, shops and supporting infrastructure.

8. Develop a range of quieter seating areas and family/play spaces.


How the council and partners will work to deliver a city centre of culture and animation

1. Develop a new ‘home grown' events strategy and place animation programme.

2. Develop proposals for a new creative hub in the city centre to support production and performance. 3. Develop new city centre and Bay art/cultural centres.

4. Establish a city cultural festival, scoping a quality International Festival of Street Art.

5. Develop Womanby Street as a new music quarter to celebrate its significance as Cardiff's most loved music street.

6. Establish a city centre artist in residence programme.

7. Develop creative uses in meanwhile spaces, taking a dynamic approach to repurposing empty shops for artist activity where possible to ensure that empty spaces are used productively.

8. Establish public spaces that can accommodate outdoor events as part of new developments.


How the council and partners will work to deliver a city centre which offers visitors a quality experience

1. Establish a clear ‘Visit Cardiff' brand, bringing together key stakeholders such as FOR Cardiff and Visit Cardiff Network members, to ensure there is a cohesive approach to marketing and promotion through one place brand for the city.

2. Explore the potential of a transport and attractions visitor card.

3. Promote free access activities within the city centre such as public art and heritage trails.

4. Progress key campaigns to help raise the profile of the city including Christmas, a waterfront city, major events and the Cardiff Music City brand.

5. Promote the city centre's unique assets including Cardiff Castle, Cardiff Market, its Victorian arcades and sports/cultural venues.

6. Build on and associated social media platforms to expand digital reach.

7. Encourage more business events of all sizes in the city centre to attract more weekday visitors and promote the city centre as a competitive business location.