Design & Development

Cardiff arena plans revised, Stoke project axed

The original concept for Cardiff’s new arena

Featured image credit: HOK

The original concept for Cardiff’s new arena

Featured image credit: HOK

A major new arena planned for Cardiff has had its design revamped and capacity cut, while plans for a new arena in Stoke-on-Trent have been scrapped.

The decisions over the arena in the Welsh capital were revealed yesterday (Thursday), according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, during a meeting of Cardiff Council’s planning committee.

The Council initially approved what was then intended to be a 17,000-capacity arena back in March 2022. The arena is due to form part of the first phase of a multi-million-pound regeneration of Cardiff’s Atlantic Wharf area.

However, it was reported in March this year that the budget for the project had risen to £280m (€321m/$340m), with the opening date for the venue also pushed back until 2026. The consortium behind the arena project includes Robertson Group as developers, HOK as designer, and Live Nation and Oak View Group as joint operators.

The venue is ultimately expected to replace the 7,500-capacity Utilita Arena, which is operated by Live Nation. However, it has now been reported that the capacity of the new venue will be scaled back to 15,348 amid wider changes.

The Council’s planning committee has approved an application to alter the design of the arena and hotel complex planned for Atlantic Wharf. Changes to the exterior appearance of the arena will see it depart from the so-called “lump of coal” design to a lighter-coloured building.

The height of the building has been reduced by 6.5m, from 46.9m to 40.4m; its width has been scaled back by 9.53m, from 101.53m to 92m; and its length has been reduced by 14m, from 162m to 148m.

The reduction in size of the project is being viewed as a means to help address concerns over the impact on local residents. Member of the planning committee, Councillor Garry Hunt, said: “The capacity will be reduced. One of the strengths of this project… is the fact that we are in a sense competing with other cities and places that have similar facilities to this. Is there harm as a consequence of the reduction… of capacity?”

In response, Alexandra Richards, a planning officer for the Council, said that when reducing the size of the arena was looked at, there was an attempt to retain the size of the seating bowl as much as possible. She added: “I don’t think that there is harm in the reduction of the capacity. (It will) lessen the impact on patron noise for residents.”

Council brings an end to Stoke arena vision

In other arena news, Stoke-on-Trent City Council has axed plans for a new 3,600-capacity arena amid a change in strategy for the site.

The Etruscan Square development scheme had included plans for a concert venue and conference centre, but this element has been dropped as the Council stated that major development sites needed to better reflect the “changing needs of the city and a changing economic climate”.

The authority secured government funding through the Levelling Up initiative to support the redevelopment of sites including Etruscan Square in the centre of the English city. The Etruscan Square development has planning approval currently in place for a mobility hub car park alongside an initial phase of residential development.

There is now a change of focus to provide more of what the Council claims is “much-needed residential accommodation” as a first phase of the site’s redevelopment, recognising the significant shortage of good quality accommodation for residents in the city centre.

Planning approval was also received for a masterplan for the 10-acre site, the largest city centre development site of its kind in the region. This is also undergoing review and instead of the proposed arena, a multi-purpose sport, leisure and entertainment facility is being explored which the Council claims will “better serve the needs of the community”.