We’ve finally had the news we’ve been waiting for with the signing of contracts to commence construction of the new International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales) here at the Celtic Manor Resort.
As many of you will know, this project has been some time in the planning with Sir Terry Matthews having earmarked the land for this project as far back as 1999, when he opened the Resort Hotel… ever the visionary!
Firmer proposals have taken shape over the last five years and it’s been a long road, as you might expect of a development of this size. We’ve passed some significant landmarks along the way including achieving outline and then full planning permission, establishing an agreement in principle for a joint venture company with the Welsh Government, and honing the all-important design details to deliver the very best facilities we can within ICC Wales.
That is why this week’s news is so momentous. We have now agreed the full 50/50 partnership to build and run ICC Wales with the Welsh Government and the funding details have also been agreed thanks to a loan from NatWest Bank. So, after years of planning, we are now just weeks away from beginning construction work on this huge project – all £83.7m of it.
We are delighted to be working so closely with Welsh Government to deliver ICC Wales and I thought it was significant that Ken Skates, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, said in the press announcement that this was not only an asset for the Celtic Manor and Newport specifically, but a very real long-term boost for the entire economy of South Wales. It will create direct and indirect jobs during the construction and operational phases, provide new business opportunities for a wide range of supply chain companies and deliver extensive knock on benefits for tourism throughout the region. It will place Wales firmly at the forefront of business tourism destinations, said Mr Skates, and he is absolutely correct on that.
With capacity for 5,000 delegates, Wales will finally be able to host the largest conferences, summits and events like UK political party conferences. Think about that for a minute… 5,000 delegates attending events that typically last a few days or more. That’s a lot of people requiring hotel accommodation in South Wales, it’s a lot of people needing taxis from Newport Station or Cardiff Airport and it’s a lot of people looking for somewhere to go for dinner. In short, it’s a lot of custom for Welsh businesses. It’s game-changing for Wales.
Economic impact studies have indicated that ICC Wales will bring around £70m annually to the Welsh economy and we expect the Convention Centre to sustain around 150 permanent jobs once it is operational. Before that, there will be 250-300 jobs created in the two-year construction of the facility and many South Wales companies will be engaged as contractors on the build.
That build will be quite some undertaking with the exceptional new convention centre being built to the highest specifications to house:
- A 1,500 seat auditorium
- A 4,000 sq m exhibition hall, providing the largest pillar-free ballroom in Europe, capable of hosting a gala dinner for 2,400 people
- Five divisible meeting rooms that will create a further 12 flexible spaces
- Breakouts at all levels to outdoor networking spaces
- State-of-the-art technology with fully integrated audio visual facilities
- 26,000 sq m of floor space in total
- 2,500 sq m outdoor plaza that will welcome visitors and provide additional networking and exhibition space
- 700 underground car parking spaces with direct access to the ICC Wales arrival atrium
We have listened to the experts we know in the Meetings and Conventions Industry and we are delivering the facilities they require for the largest conferences and events.
It’s been a long road to reach where we are and there is, no doubt, two years of hard work ahead of us to open ICC Wales for business in the summer of 2019 but these are exciting times for everyone involved. Watch this space!