Cardiff canal uncovered for city centre development

Churchill Way is ripped up to expose the long-buried dock feeder canal
Churchill Way is ripped up to expose the long-buried dock feeder canal

A 70-metre section of the long-buried dock feeder canal is now becoming a central feature of Cardiff City Council’s £6m Canal Quarter development.

Consulting engineer Atkins was appointed by Cardiff Council to design the Canal Quarter development, working with quantity surveying sister company Faithful & Gould, which is providing project management and commercial support. Main contractor is Knights Brown.

The development scheme involves the daylighting of 70 metres of the dock feeder canal on Churchill Way, Cardiff. The dock feeder was originally constructed in the late 19th Century to provide a constant supply of water to the Bute docks – allowing for large container ships to dock in Cardiff even in low  tide. It helped to make Cardiff a leading port for iron ore and coal.

The canal was paved over between 1948 and 1950 but is now being uncovered to help reduce traffic in the city centre and manage surface water drainage.

As well as opening up the canal, the Canal Quarter scheme involves the construction of two footbridges, a cantilevered stage and rain gardens to manage surface water drainage.

The project also includes work on the surrounding road network, putting in cycle lanes, electric taxi charging points and new bus links.

Ben Ferguson, senior landscape architect for Atkins and lead designer on the project, said: “It’s great to be able to reflect the industrial heritage of the area by re-opening the dock feeder. During the late 19th and the early 20th century this waterway was at the centre of a tree-lined boulevard and to re-establish that aesthetic, and to reveal the waterway once again within a forward looking and sustainable design will be incredibly exciting.”

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Cardiff city councillor Dan De’Ath, cabinet member for strategic planning and transport, said: “The opening of the dock feeder canal and the new transport scheme will not only mark the beginning of a new district centre for the city and act as a catalyst for new investment, but it will play an essential role in managing traffic flow and surface water drainage in the city centre.

“A series of rain gardens will be built, with specific soil and planting to treat the surface water to remove pollutants before the water flows into the canal. This will ensure that 3,700 sqm of water will be diverted away from the sewage system each year, reducing the cost and energy of treating this water through the sewage pumping station at Cardiff Bay.”

Atkins' design for the new Canal Quarter
Atkins’ design for the new Canal Quarter

The project, which started in February 2022, is part of a wider masterplan to develop a new district in the city, interlinking Bridge Street, David Street. Charles Street, Tredegar Street, Guildford Crescent and Barrack Lane to develop a high-density, mixed-use development.

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