Construction on the new International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales) will begin in March after funding details were agreed between the Welsh Government, Celtic Manor Resort and NatWest (part of the RBS Group).
NatWest’s local corporate team will provide a £51.5m loan facility to the joint venture company which will construct and manage the new convention centre as a 50/50 partnership between Welsh Government and Celtic Manor Resort.
As well as the tripartite funding agreement, the Welsh Government and Celtic Manor Resort have signed contracts to establish a shareholders’ agreement and project management agreement to build and run ICC Wales. A construction contract was also signed with the principal building contractor, John Sisk and Son, who have worked diligently and pro-actively over the past 12 months to ensure construction costs remained within budget.
With a total development cost of £83.7m including car parking and external landscaping, ICC Wales will be capable of accommodating up to 5,000 delegates with a total floor space exceeding 26,000 square metres. It is projected that the new facility will open for business in June 2019.
The centre will house a 1,500-seat auditorium and separate exhibition hall which, at 4,000 square metres, will provide the largest pillar-free ballroom in Europe, capable of hosting 2,400 people for a gala dinner.
Celtic Manor Resort Chairman Sir Terry Matthews said: “This International Convention Centre has been many years in the planning and I am delighted that we are now in a position to build and deliver this facility that will be such an asset to Wales.
“The Celtic Manor Resort has already established a reputation as the UK’s No 1 Conference Hotel but this new centre will be a real game-changer. In the past, we’ve been forced to turn away hundreds of millions of pounds of business because we did not have the capacity to hold the largest conferences. Not any longer.
“This International Convention Centre will allow us to attract the biggest and most lucrative business events to Wales, as well as high-profile summits and party political conferences. ICC Wales will rival any convention facility in Europe and will act as a magnet for major events, bringing huge benefits to the Welsh economy.”
Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure Ken Skates said: “This will be a major asset for Wales, enabling us to compete with any venue in the UK and indeed Europe to attract and host key events that make a huge contribution to the economy.
“It is also important to emphasise that not only is it an asset for the Celtic Manor and Newport specifically, but this development will provide 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 and I am delighted it is being delivered in partnership with the Welsh Government.”
Banking and debt facilities were structured and delivered locally by Stuart Allison, Relationship Director at NatWest and David Moxham, Director of the bank’s Structured Finance team.
Stuart said: “ICC Wales is an exciting, high profile development that will bring significant investment to the region. Having a world-class convention centre in the heart of Wales will attract visitors from around the globe. ICC Wales has been an exciting opportunity to demonstrate NatWest’s local capabilities, and we are delighted to provide ongoing support to the project.”
David added: “The team at Celtic Manor Resort has a strong reputation across the market for its conferencing facilities and the ICC will enhance this further. We wish the business every success for the future.”
Stephen Bowcott, Chief Executive of Sisk Group said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been entrusted with one of the most prestigious and important construction projects in Wales and to be using local suppliers and workers.”
Excavation work has already begun on land adjacent to the Resort Hotel and existing Convention Centre at Celtic Manor, clearing the way for the two-year construction project to commence in March.
As well as the auditorium and main hall, included in the detailed designs are 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 and fully serviced client offices, green rooms and production facilities.
A 2,500 square metre plaza will welcome visitors to the new centre and provide additional networking and exhibition space. There will be HGV loading bays direct to both the auditorium and main hall, and 700 car parking spaces will be created under the facility with direct access to the ICC Wales arrival atrium.
Cardiff headquartered law firm Hugh James advised Celtic Manor Resort and the joint venture company on the agreement, with corporate partners Jon Fernandez Lewis and Gerallt Jones leading a large supporting team on the project.
“We are delighted to have advised on this landmark deal for the Celtic Manor Resort and Wales,” they said. “Both have a tremendous track record of attracting and hosting major events and the new convention centre will further enhance this; positioning the Resort and ICC Wales as premier UK destinations for business and political conferences, summits and exhibitions.”
Legal support was provided to NatWest Bank by Osborne Clarke.