Building a Greener, Fairer and Stronger Cardiff in a post- COVID world


The views of Cardiff residents, businesspeople and city stakeholders have all been fed into a report on how Cardiff should set about successfully recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Greener, Fairer, Stronger recovery and renewal strategy was commissioned by Cardiff Council earlier this year and has been out for consultation since June. A series of engagement events took place from June to October, including several child-friendly events to gather the opinions of young people alongside those of residents, business, the cultural sector and other stakeholders. A survey also produced over a thousand responses.

World-leading expert on cities, Dr Tim Williams, played a key part in helping to compile the report in preparation for consultation. Dr Williams, who has 20-years-experience working nationally and internationally developing urban and city management policies for major metropolises like London and Sydney, says Cardiff is well-positioned to take advantage of the many opportunities a post-Covid landscape will bring.

Writing back in June, in the Taking Cardiff Forward After COVID-19 report, Dr Williams, said: "Cardiff entered this global crisis in good shape and it can emerge, with the right spirit, strategy, collaborations and innovation, even stronger. In so doing it can provide even more benefits for both its own community and that of the City Region. Cardiff can succeed after Covid, delivering a better standard of life for its residents alongside an economic programme for a ‘green' and technology-based recovery.

"There's an opportunity, galvanised by Covid-19, for Cardiff to become an exemplar for a city of its size. Building on its established and continuing strengths, the ambition it has to succeed, the skills and imagination of its people and the leadership it has already shown, Cardiff will not just ‘bounce-back' - of that there is no doubt - it will ‘bounce-forward." 

The report was commissioned by Cardiff Council specifically to challenge the authority and to sharpen its own strategies and interventions for a successful post-pandemic recovery. Now, following consultation with the public, Cardiff Council's Cabinet is being recommended to accept the report at its next meeting on Thursday, December 16.

The Greener, Fairer, Stronger strategy covers a wide range of measures which it recommends the council work towards, including:

  • A key focus must be placed on the future of the city centre making it attractive to visitors, workers and businesses in a post COVID landscape;
  • Cardiff must retain and build on its status as a major events city for both sports and culture, but also develop its own home grow programme;
  • Cardiff must ensure it remains a healthy city to live in with clean air, high quality public spaces, parks and green areas;
  • Cardiff must use the momentum around the ‘Green' agenda, and capitalise on the Tech and knowledge sectors already surfacing in the city, to attract investment and deliver jobs;
  • ‘Liveability' is central to what the city will need to be if it is to retain and to grow and to attract talent and investment; and
  • Building a fitting public transport network which will enable the city to be criss-crossed with ease is essential.

Cardiff Council leader, Cllr Huw Thomas, said: "We have used Dr William's report to help inform and shape our thinking and our strategies for leading Cardiff into the post-pandemic world. This council is determined to deliver the best possible outcomes for all its residents. These plans have been consulted on and the majority of respondents have shown support for the strategy. Our residents believe, as we do, that Cardiff will recover from the pandemic, and that these plans can benefit everyone who lives and works here. We will of course continue our conversations with citizens and city stakeholders on how we can shape and lead the recovery and renewal of Wales' capital city. We want to build a new Cardiff, a city which works for everyone who lives in it, and which works for Wales. A city which will continue to grow and to flourish as it has over the past 20 years. A great city to live in and one that can continue to power Wales' economic success."

To read the Greener, Fairer and Stronger Cardiff strategy report in full click hereCARDIFF COUNCIL (

Looking towards the longer-term recovery the report focuses on 6 mission statements and priorities.

These are:

  • Reimagining the city centre
  • A city for everyone
  • A fifteen minute city
  • A culture and sport led renewal
  • A Tech City
  • A One Planet recovery

Mission 1: Reimagine the city centre.

City centres face new challenges in a post-Covid world and the changes we have seen in the way we work, shop and pursue leisure activities could all have a major impact on our cities. It is essential we work to protect jobs in our hospitality, retail and office sectors by attracting people back to the city centre. While construction developments and improving the city's infrastructure will play an important role in delivering jobs and job opportunities, measures will need to be taken to reactivate the night time economy, improve the cultural offer, animate public spaces and improve public transport and active travel options to create a uniquely identifiable Cardiff which people want to visit and be a part of.


  • Make sure our city centre is safe, clean, welcoming and attractive for people of all ages and backgrounds.
  • Accelerate the completion of the central business district to support continued jobs growth.
  • Support existing businesses to grow and become more productive.
  • Improve existing - and establish new - public squares, streets, green spaces and open up our waterfront.
  • Take a more direct role in managing the future of the city centre to reflect the needs of residents, workers, businesses and visitors.
  • Put culture and arts at the centre of the recovery, embracing the role the sector plays in shaping our city centre.
  • Create a city centre that is fully accessible to all ages, and people of disabilities underpinned by a fully integrated transport system. 

Mission 2: A city for everyone

The pandemic has widened inequalities, and the old, women and those from a BAME background have all been adversely affected. Life experiences of young people have been limited throughout lockdown and there is a need for specific support. Cities will need to address the long term drivers of health inequalities, including access to good jobs, housing and education which residents face in our more deprived communities.


  • Ensure that the benefits of the city's regeneration and development programme are felt across all the city's communities.
  • Become a Child Friendly City, where the interests of children and young people are at the heart of our response.
  • Ensure that the new models of support in place for the city's most vulnerable residents are maintained post-pandemic.
  • Address the long term driver of health inequalities, including investing in housing, education and local communities.
  • Ensure that Cardiff is a city where we can all feel safe and welcome. 

Mission 3: A 15 minute city 

The pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of our local communities, neighbourhood centres and green spaces. With the majority working from home during lockdown we saw big changes to the way we travel, shop and use the spaces around us. With home working likely to remain in some shape or form, opportunities have appeared which can strengthen our local centres over the long term. The idea of the '15-minute city' is where services you might need, from parks to shops, are within 15 minutes of your home. There is an opportunity to make the existing network of successful local district centres even more vibrant, busy and relevant to local communities, and to a new type of agile worker who may split their working days between home and an office in the city. The possible benefits, from reduced congestion to community regeneration, are clear to see.


  • Creating safe and accessible local centres for everyone, particularly children and older people.
  • Deliver a step change in the provision of public transport and active travel measures to link our communities, as outlined in our Transport White Paper.
  • Manage, curate and promote local and district centres - to create vibrant centres by encouraging and promoting diverse local businesses, retail, workplaces, incubation spaces and social activity.
  • Invest in existing and establish new green spaces, whilst more actively embracing our waterfront.
  • Showcase and celebrate the diversity and culture of different parts of our city, including our city's historic assets.
  • Deliver a ‘locality' approach to public services, with teams based in and able to respond to the needs of communities, built on the networks of Community and Wellbeing Hubs. 
  • Support public service staff to work in an agile way, with community-based spaces in localities across the city.
  • Invest in estate renewal, enhancing existing housing estates and their neighbouring areas to deliver high quality sustainable low carbon housing, public realm and business space for our communities. 

Mission 4: Culture and sport led renewal

The pandemic has raised the importance of the arts, culture and sport to Cardiff, all of which have played a huge part in attracting business and visitors to Cardiff in the past as well as making our city a great place to live. Culture, creativity and sport, shape cities as places to live and to visit. Maximising the impact of our creative and cultural assets is one of the key ways in which we can differentiate Cardiff from other cities. Distinct, authentic, local experiences will become more important in attracting domestic and international tourism in the future and culture is increasingly recognised as a key wellbeing asset for any city's residents. Moving forward the city needs to allow for and provide space for creative, cultural and sporting activities.


  • Put culture at the heart of redevelopment, creating places and spaces that people want to be in and around, and supporting a more creative economy.
  • Invest in our creative infrastructure, from digital communication to low cost artist workshops and studios, to makers' spaces and grassroots venues, enabling our skilled creatives to flourish, and recognising the role than culture and creativity can play in developing a better city.
  • Embrace Cardiff's Music City Strategy to make Cardiff the first city in the UK to incorporate music into its city structure - from planning and licensing to social wellbeing and tourism.
  • Support investment to unlock participation in sport at all levels.
  • Develop a new post-COVID Events Strategy with Welsh Government to support a home-grown focussed events sector that delivers a sustainable programme of events, supporting our own businesses in developing our visitor economy. 

Mission 5: Tech City 

Today's successful cities are driven by the skills, knowledge and expertise of the people and businesses that live and operate there. The pandemic has also shown the impact investment in technology can have improving our lives and supporting business growth. The fact technology enabled so many people to continue working from home during lockdown had huge economic benefit, saving jobs and livelihoods. As Cardiff emerges from the pandemic we need to grow our knowledge economy creating more and better jobs. We need to retain talented people and provide them with a base and a network which can help unleash their potential. There are now opportunities for smaller cities, with a higher quality of life, to woo business away from ‘mega' cities with their poorer quality of life and environment.


  • Establish Cardiff City Centre and Cardiff Bay as ‘Tech Central' for Wales, retaining, developing and attracting the knowledge-based businesses of the future.
  • Support a ‘start-up to IPO' tech eco-system creating a network of spaces for all stages of business development, and a programme of business and financial support for businesses with private sector partners.
  • Strengthen relationships between Cardiff and universities that focuses on public policy and economic development research for the city.
  • Invest in the infrastructure to support tech businesses in the city of all shapes and sizes, repurposing buildings to develop clusters of knowledge-based business.
  • Embed technology in the future delivery of public services and ensure equality of access across the city and alternative routes for those with difficulties in accessing digital services. 

Mission 6: One Planet recovery

Since the pandemic more and more cities around the world are embracing zero carbon, greener, cleaner more sustainable and more liveable communities. Covid brought to the fore the importance of our parks and green spaces and the drop in traffic emissions and congestion encouraged many to try cycling in the city for the first time. As Cardiff emerges from the crisis the lessons learned, and the speed and ability to change the way we did things because of Covid, now needs to be brought to bear on tackling the climate emergency, which remains the greatest risk to us all. Forward looking cities are taking the opportunity to decarbonise, develop clean air plans, transforming the way people move around cities while reducing reliance on the private car. They are also establishing investment programmes in green economy schemes. The One Planet Cardiff strategy sets out how Cardiff will strive to become a Carbon Neutral City by 2030 - creating new ‘green' jobs and economic opportunities while promoting better health and wellbeing, as we seek to play our part in tackling the Climate Emergency.


  • Deliver the One Planet Cardiff Strategy, with the aim of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030 and adopting ‘zero carbon zero poverty' principles as we recover from the pandemic.
  • Use the market potential of the Green Recovery to create local jobs.
  • Develop planning policy and guidance to facilitate and maximise low energy, resource efficient and resilient development across the city.
  • Use the power of the Council's spending and investment decisions, and its own organisational policies, practice and partnerships to deliver maximum social and environmental gain.
  • Invest in sustainable homes and neighbourhoods, driving down both carbon footprint and energy costs for our communities.
  • Develop the infrastructure to make Cardiff the most Electric Vehicle (EV) friendly city in the UK.

 Ten things Dr Williams' says Cardiff has going for it

  1. Cardiff is Wales's political, cultural and business capital
  2. It is one of the UK's Core Cities giving it important lobbying potential
  3. The city has a significant pipeline of major development projects coming forward
  4. Cardiff has a continually improving, attractive, walkable and cyclable public realm
  5. A growing status as Wales' national capital with a cosmopolitan community
  6. A resurrected, and still regenerating, Bay area
  7. A high-performing university sector with research excellence, and some of the most improved schools in the country
  8. Cardiff has at least two emerging innovation districts in digital, fintech and business services
  9. A unique capacity to host major sporting events at the heart of the city
  10. An impressively renewed and renewing multi-purpose and diversifying city centre with Wales' only Central Business District

Five things Dr Williams' says Cardiff needs

  1. The city's irreplaceable role for Wales needs to be recognised by Welsh Government
  2. Growth needs to be inclusive and shared with all communities across the city
  3. An efficient, modern, public transport system is a priority
  4. Public health and wellbeing will be central to creating a successful city
  5. The green agenda should play a key part in creating a new Cardiff identity