Cardiff's new bus station will be 'world's finest' says city councillor
A report to council cabinet had raised questions about how the scheme will be funded - that information will not be available until October
Councillors have tried to reassure residents they will be able to deliver “the world’s finest” bus station for Cardiff.
A report about the plans for a new bus interchange in the city centre went before the council’s cabinet on Thursday.
Questions had been raised in that report about how the ambitious scheme will be funded and how the new bus station will work.
The council said their new bus station is of “outstanding architectural and urban design quality” which will deliver a “quality international gateway to the city”.
But after repeated questioning about the scheme, the council’s chief executive said the details about its finances will not be revealed until October – two months after the current bus station will have closed.
A new bus interchange will be built on land which currently houses Marland House and the NCP car park on Wood Street.
They will both be demolished and a canopy will link Cardiff Central train station with the new bus station.
Last week, the council revealed pictures of the new proposal and named Foster + Partners as the preferred architect.
The world renowned firm has also designed the BBC development due to come to Central Square.
During the meeting, Cathays Lib Dem councillor Elizabeth Clarke repeatedly asked about the cost of the scheme and how much the Fosters + Partners bid had cost.
She was told the October report will follow “cost appraisal” work which will take place this summer.
Chief Executive Paul Orders said: “The report that will be brought forward to cabinet in October will be a developer appraisal which will clarify how this project will be dealt with in financial terms.
“That will update members on cashflow and capital receipts.”
He added: “As is always the case with complex, major projects we frequently have to deal with the concept design in the first instance then we have detailed vision and costs.”
Speaking to Councillor Ramesh Patel, the council’s cabinet member with responsibility for transport, Coun Clarke asked: “It says you anticipate the cost of the bus station will be between £10m to £20m.
“I understand that the purchase of the NCP car park was £9m, does that figure include that?”
Coun Patel replied: “My understanding is that no, it doesn’t.”
Coun Clarke also asked what the situation would be with ownership of the land.
She asked: “Obviously the council has got freehold of the BBC site, Marland House and the NCP. Do you intend to continue keeping them freehold?”
Council leader Phil Bale replied: “The council has got a long standing policy to keep freehold in the city centre. I do not see that policy changing. We will be planning a long leasehold agreement on that land so we can redevelop the city centre as it grows”.
He added: “I think it’s really important that we have a very clear plan towards delivering a fantastic facility.”
The report raised questions about the reliability of a Dynamic Stand Allocation (DSA) scheme which uses technology to guide buses into vacant bay.
The proposal for the station is for it to allow buses to pull into diagonal bays before reversing out which the council believes would increase capacity.
But one report commissioned by the council described the technology as being “in its infancy”.
The council’s city operations director Andrew Gregory said officers had studied the reports and drawn up their proposals using the information within them.
When asked if he felt confident the new bus station could deliver the planned capacity of 140 buses per hour, he replied: “We do”.
Coun Patel said the bus station would be the “finest in the world”.
He said its design as an interchange and not just as a single station will allow people who want to travel somewhere which is not on their direct bus route to avoid having to travel to the city centre.
“A lot of people are saying ‘we don’t just want to go into the city centre’ and they can go out to these hubs and go straight to the hospital or elsewhere.
“Not everyone will want to travel into the city centre, those who do can continue to,” he said.
The cabinet approved moving forward with the scheme ahead of a planning application being submitted in December.