South East Wales

£13m Butetown, Cardiff regeneration shops open

The new shops in Loudoun Square
Image caption The new shops form one edge of the £13m redevelopment of Loudoun Square in Butetown, which will include a new health centre and social housing

Cardiff's newest shopping street opens later but without the fanfare reserved for more prestigious city centre developments.

This row of retail units is the cornerstone of an £13m regeneration of one Cardiff's most deprived areas.

It forms one edge of the Loudoun Square development in Butetown, replacing a 1960s-era shopping precinct and flats.

A health and community centre will open next year and 61 affordable homes the year after.

Image caption Traders have moved in to new stores

It is investment some local people say is long overdue as the area - once known as Tiger Bay - has been transformed by development of the city's waterfront area.

One of the UK's first multicultural communities, it can still boast hearing 48 languages spoken on its streets, according to Naveed Rahman, chair of the retail forum, whose father started the family chip shop in 1974.

Finishing touches

"This was the heart of Tiger Bay, Loudoun Square. Shirley Bassey, Ryan Giggs' father, they came from here.

"It has changed a lot since then but our shops hadn't. They weren't very good."

Mr Rahman was putting the finishing touches to his new chippy, one of the 11 stores opening in the regeneration.

For more than a year, shopkeepers traded from temporary premises round the corner while this block was built.

Image caption Christine Read says doctors at the practice treat patients living in 'hostels to penthouses'

One of the most recent ethnic influxes into the area were Somali refugees, mainly women and children, in the early 1990s.

They added to the Yemeni and West Indian communities already there as a result of the area's history as a docklands, he said.

Since then, according to Christine Read, business manager at the Butetown health centre, thousands more people have moved with the development of the modern Cardiff Bay.

Unfit for purpose

The blocks of flats down and around the city's waterfront have brought some of the city's more affluent residents cheek by jowl with some of its least affluent, she said.

When she started in 1997 at one of the three GP practices at the centre, there were 100 patients on the books. Now there are 4,500.

It is one of the reasons the 1960s-built building is, like the shops that were next door, considered unfit for purpose.

Image caption Butetown's health centre is not considered fit for purpose

A replacement health centre is due to open in March. Ms Read said she cannot wait for modern facilities to treat the medical needs of the area.

"There is a place out there," she says, pointing to the corridor outside the tiny office we crammed into, "for leaving your pram. When do you see people pushing prams? Things have moved on."


Two of the three surgeries are moving to the new health centre.

"It will be nice for the doctors to have their own rooms," she adds, "rather than having to 'hot seat'. The need is there."

One of her doctors describes the variety of the patient list as stretching "from the hostel to the penthouse", she adds.

The regeneration work is a joint project between Cardiff Community Housing Association (CCHA) Cardiff council and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

Image caption The £13m Loudoun Square development includes a new health centre and 61 social housing homes

It includes a cafe where amateur boxer Yassin Essa, 34, stopped for food while visiting his family from London, where he now lives.

He said: "It's a deprived area but it's been stereotyped. We like to accept people for what they are."

Serving at the counter was Idris Mohamed, 28, who arrived in Wales aged three, as a refugee from Somalia.

He was minding the shop while his father was away. We talked about how Idris is a name familiar to Islam as well as to Wales. He is in favour of the new look to the street.

He said: "People are scared of change. But I think it's a good thing."

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