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Lost dream of UK’s locked wasteland destined to be ‘world class’ skyscraper zone

4 min read

A huge development in a major UK city was full of promise… but is now a locked-up wasteland.

Cardiff Pointe, in Wales’ largest city, was hoped to be the next big thing when it was approved in 2013.

At the tip of the Cardiff Sports Village, it had been due to be the site of variety of townhouses flats and detached homes and, had it succeeded, would have provided 561 new homes and three skyscrapers.

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Cardiff-based architecture firm Scott Brownrigg had described it as "a catalyst for the regeneration of this highly prominent area… a world-class waterfront,” but in the end has come to far less.

Instead,WalesOnlinehas described parts of the area as looking “more like a wasteland”.

A peeling billboard reads: “Welcome to Cardiff Pointe” – but the swanky image below the text is a far cry from the realities that lie beyond.

As part of a section 106 agreement, a sum of £3,025,132.60 was pledged by developers Greenbank Partnerships Limited to go towards local infrastructure like education, highways and safety.

None of that has been paid, and a Freedom of Information request has been revealed with the outlet reporting the obligation for the payment having been delayed.

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The number of units planned for development has steadily fallen since the original conception of the idea and had already dropped by the time the plan was approved in 2013.

In 2008, there had even been plans for two 33-storey skyscrapers in what was then the Bay Pointe development.

Of the promised development, some has been completed, with 99 units built for the open market and 106 completed as affordable housing.

Much of the land remains empty given the lower number of homes built on it, with a 2021 council cabinet report stating progress had been "slow due to a disagreement between the Council and [Greenbank] relating to the fulfilment of conditions for the next phase of development”.

A subsidiary of Greenbank, Figurehead Homes Limited, had originally pledged the three million at the time planning permission was granted for the infrastructure with some of it due at the point the first house was built.

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Circumstances changed and the council changed this for the to money to be due at the completion of the 200th house, something that never came to pass.

This means around a fifth of the houses were built and none of the Section 106 money was ever paid.

The council has since bought the land involved from Greenbank for an undisclosed fee in December 2022.

A Greenbank spokesperson said: "Greenbank was disappointed not to have had the opportunity to complete its projects at Cardiff Sports Village.

“However, the recent transfer of the land to complete the development to the Council came at a time where the Council had a new Masterplan to deliver and it allowed Greenbank to pursue other projects which were more viable in the short term.

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"The Development Agreement between Greenbank and the Council has produced one of the UK’s leading and award-winning Ice Arenas and the first two phases of Cardiff Pointe set the benchmark for future successful phases. Greenbank wishes the Council and its future partners every success."

Greenbank then explained: "It is common for developers to agree a trigger for s106 payments when some profits have been received from delivery of some units rather than at the beginning of development and all variations reflected what was considered reasonable in the market for such contributions."

A spokesperson for Cardiff Council said: "While it’s disappointing that Greenbank were unable to complete the planned Cardiff Pointe development, it is important to note that they did deliver over and above the affordable housing requirement based on the number of units they finished on site.”

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They continued: “More affordable homes – 106 in total – were delivered against only 99 homes for the open market, and a significant commuted contribution was also made by Greenbank towards the Ice Arena.

"This far outweighs any loss of Section 106 money that would have been due, even if the whole development had been completed.”

The spokesperson added: “Cardiff Council now retains all the undeveloped land which Greenbank once held and should a developer come forward, then any future planning application will see the council claim for new Section 106 funds and more affordable housing for the area."

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