Culverhouse Cross Case Study

Queen Street - Cardiff city centre
Photo: Alex Doyle

Cardiff is Europe's youngest capital city. In 2003 it was nominated to be the European City of Culture for 2008 (narrowly beaten by the city of Liverpool!). The city is trying desperately hard to keep people spending money in the city centre.

As more planning permissions are now being granted for expansion and renovation of existing retail stores in Cardiff's CBD, there is now less of a threat from out-of-town shopping retail parks.

The city centre has had massive investment in order to make it more attractive to both local shoppers and tourists. The following section shows how both Cardiff County Council and businesses have tried to pull customers back to the city centre.

Modern shopping arcades
Cardiff has invested money by building a number of shopping arcades, one of which is shown below. Many of these include small specialist shops, and they are a great attraction to shoppers.

Queen's Arcade, Cardiff
Photo: Alex Doyle

New look city centre
Cardiff is repaving its main pedestrian shopping area of Queen Street. It has also invested thousands of pounds in CCTV cameras for greater protection and safety in the city centre. Cardiff enjoys a low crime rate in comparison to many UK cities.

Repaving Queen Street, 2003
Photo: Alex Doyle

City events
Cardiff hosts popular tourist events every year such as a winter market and winter wonderland, with ice skating as well as a fairground. Their success has made good profits for the city centre. People now want this type of leisure experience as well as shopping facilities. Events such as these are bringing people back to the city centre.

Traditional tourist attractions in Cardiff
As well as the excellent shopping facilities, Cardiff can be a day out for the whole family. There are many tourist attractions just a minute's walk from the main shopping areas, including the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Castle and City Hall.

Cardiff Castle by day
Photo: Alex Doyle

Cardiff Bay
A short drive or bus ride from the city centre takes you to Cardiff Bay. In the 1980s millions of pounds were spent on regenerating this part of Cardiff. It now has an award-winning shopping centre (Mermaid Quay), leisure facilities and historical and cultural attractions. This all adds to Cardiff centre's shopping and leisure experience.

Mermaid Quay shopping centre
Photo: Alex Doyle

Are there problems with Cardiff's out-of-town retail parks?

Cardiff Bay retail park

Culverhouse Cross retail park
Photos: Alex Doyle

There has been a huge success with out-of-town retail parks all over the UK. In Cardiff, since they have appeared in the 1990s, the number of customers finding them more convenient and enjoyable for shopping has risen steadily.

However as the population has risen in Cardiff and its surrounding areas, it has experienced some problems. Although shops are still making profits there are some worrying trends appearing!

  1. A survey by property consultant CB Hillier Parker showed that 90% of the retail development proposals currently in the planning stage are based in the high street of Cardiff's CBD. In 2001 this was only 40%.

    The survey suggests that customers have had enough of big out-of-town shopping centres and prefer the shopping experience of Cardiff's city centre.

  2. Cardiff county council is responsible for giving planning permission for any new stores or extensions being built in its out-of-town retail parks. It is not happy with countryside areas being built on any more as it is not environmentally friendly.

  3. Traffic jams during rush hours and weekends can make getting to Cardiff's out-of-town shopping areas very difficult. This is when most people are able to do their shopping.

  4. There has been a trend in the last 10 years of people wanting to move back to living near the city centre. This tends to be young professional single people or couples. They want the lifestyle that the city offers such as good shopping, coffee houses, restaurants and leisure facilities. People now see shopping as a leisure activity.

    These people are less likely to use out-of-town shopping areas. They are also a group of people with high spending power.

  5. Many major stores in Cardiff are again investing in their city centre stores as profits have risen.

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