Over the next 20 years Cardiff is projected to grow faster than all major British cities apart from London. This is good news. Successful cities are those that attract and keep people. It is in particular a young city and over the decade ahead there will be a large growth in the working age population, a signal of strength for the city’s economy.
This growth will bring challenges too. It will put pressure on the city’s physical and social infrastructure and public services. New sustainable ways of getting around the city will be needed, new homes – indeed, whole new communities – will need to be built, underpinned by investment in low carbon energy and water infrastructures.
More young people will mean more schools and more teachers. There will be a need for more health services including GP surgeries. The growth in the city’s older population will also mean greater demand on health and care services. These challenges will need to be managed at a time of public sector austerity.
Cardiff today is relatively wealthy, safe, green and healthy. While Cardiff performs well across a number of city-wide indicators of liveability compared to other ‘Core Cities’, large inequalities exist within the city. Some of the poorest wards in Wales are to be found within walking distance of some of the most affluent and wards with the highest unemployment rates are within a few miles of Wales’ major commercial centre.
Cardiff is projected to be the fastest growing UK Core City over the next 20 years, which is a sign of its strength and its unique position in Wales. This projected growth presents the city with major economic and cultural opportunities.
New sustainable communities designed to provide the best quality of life possible can be developed. Cardiff can have an even more positive economic impact on the city region and on the Welsh economy. However, planning for and managing the city’s growth will not be easy. Pressures on service provision will have to be addressed by all partners, whether in terms of adapting existing services to be more flexible or by delivering increased and better infrastructure and facilities, more schools and more health services.
Furthermore, addressing the inequalities which are evident across the city will be fundamental to the city’s future. These are apparent in the economic and health outcomes of our citizens, their satisfaction with Cardiff as a place to live, as well as their attainment and overall well-being. These inequalities are damaging the lives of too many citizens, are putting pressure on public services and lead to long-term effects for the city’s economy.