The forthcoming opening of the £83 million International Convention Centre (ICC) Wales is proof that Bristol is “falling further behind the curve” when it comes to world-class events facilities.
That is the damning verdict from global real estate advisor Colliers International, which says this summer’s opening of the centre in Newport will highlight the continued absence of a comparable venue 30 miles away in Bristol.
The ICC Wales, a joint venture between the Welsh Government and Celtic Manor Resort, will provide 26,000 sq m of total floorspace for meetings, conferences and exhibitions when it opens in Newport this summer.
The facility beside the M4 will be able to accommodate 5,000 conference delegates and there will be a 1,500-seat auditorium and 4,000 sq m exhibition hall.
Estimates suggest that the ICC could bring £70 million into the Welsh economy each year. New hotel developments have been springing up in Wales’s third largest city to accommodate an expected upsurge in visitors.
Key to the long-term success of the project will be the construction of the £1.4 billion M4 relief road, south of Newport, which has been mooted for many years.
Carys Allen, Surveyor, National Capital Markets, at Colliers International in the South West and Wales, says the completion of the centre, together with the recent scrapping of the Severn Bridge tolls, would bring a major economic boost to South Wales – with Bristol still yet to deliver on its own arena project.
“The new International Convention Centre Wales will be the largest venue of its kind anywhere in Wales and the South West of England,” said Carys Allen.
“Together with the abolition of the Severn Bridge Tolls last December, this scheme will help to unlock South Wales for commercial property occupiers and investors. With land prices in and around Greater Bristol at an all-time high, land prices in and around Newport are much lower. Not surprisingly, we expect there to be a surge in development in South and South East Wales, giving a substantial shot in the arm to the local economy.
“Having said that, questions must now be asked about the likely traffic impact and whether the much discussed 14-mile, six-lane relief road between Magor and Castleton will finally get the green light.
“Meanwhile, the location and deliverability of a Bristol Arena is still yet to be confirmed. The lack of such a facility when compared with Newport and other big cities across the UK leaves Bristol falling further behind the curve.
“It is time for the city to take a leaf out of Newport’s book and finally deliver on its promise to build a world-class conference and concert facility.”