Cardiff is performing well despite the economic downturn. Cardiff Council has published its latest City Centre Performance Report which provides a guide to the health of the Welsh Capital as a place to shop, work, live and visit.
The 2008 report, which is backed up by the findings of national and local surveys, sees Cardiff as a thriving city with a growing international reputation.
The report contains a number of key findings. These include:
- Retail rankings – Cardiff is 10th in the UK for shopping destinations, above Bristol (14th) and Newcastle (12th). It is predicted that Cardiff will climb to 8th position following the completion of the St David’s Shopping Centre redevelopment in the autumn;
- Floorspace under construction is at one of its highest ever levels (254,775m2) as the St David’s 2 development nears completion;
- Vacant floorspace stood at 107,529m2 (7%) in 2008, well below its 1999 benchmark figure of 172,359 m2 (11%);
- Highest pedestrian flows were observed at the middle section of Queen Street with an average of 8,363 people per hour; maintaining Queen Street position as one of the top five highest volume pedestrian areas in the UK.
- Retailer representation remains high with approximately 450 Class A1 (shop) units, 4 major department stores, many national multiples and a varied and vibrant independent retail sector; major investment in excising stores has been undertaken, resulting in enhanced sales, that’s exceeded the national average performance.
- Prime shop rents have steadily increased since 1998 and are higher than Bristol, Nottingham and Leicester;
- Annualised Office rents increased between 2007 and 2008, lifting Cardiff’s office rents in line with Newcastle’s and above Liverpool, Nottingham and Leicester;
- Reported crimes in the city centre have fallen, with a number of initiatives currently in place, such as night time coordinator and the successful introduction of taxi marshals have delivered a pro active stance to reduce crime and disorder in the city centre;
- Public Realm Enhancements completed at Charles Street, Park Place, Cathedral Walk, St. John Street, Trinity Street, Working Street, The Hayes and Mill Lane;
- Improvements in Air Quality recorded at all city centre Air Quality Monitoring Sites.
Visitor numbers to Cardiff’s TIC (Tourist Information Centre) were also up by 10% during April to July, helped by major events in the city such as concerts by Oasis and Take That, the Urdd Eisteddfod and the Ashes Test Match.
During July, 40% of visitors to the TIC were from overseas, reflecting the recent news from the Office of National Statistics that in 2008 Cardiff moved in to the top 10 cities in the UK to attract overseas visitors. This is particularly encouraging because overseas visitors tend to spend more, especially on accommodation and gifts.
In recent months staff in the TIC have noticed an increase in visitors from Scandinavia, Spain and Italy in particular, although accommodation bookings they made for Australians during July, when the Test Match was on, were higher than usual.
Councillor Nigel Howells, Executive Member for Sport, Leisure & Culture, said:
“This report shows that the city centre can rightly be regarded as a leading regional centre in the United Kingdom. The holding of major events such as the first test of the 2009 Ashes cricket series and the city’s ongoing success in filming the BBC’s Dr Who and Torchwood TV Series has elevated Cardiff’s international standing as a world-class sporting and cultural venue, strengthening our attractiveness to investors, shoppers and visitors”.