I visited Cardiff today. Between the city centre, where there is a lot of regeneration going on, and the rejuvenated Cardiff Bay is Butetown (tho’ you’ll miss it if you follow the signs), an oasis of deprivation.

To walk from the city centre to the bay, the quickest route is down Bute Street, though the signs direct you under the railway embankment to the parallel Lloyd George Avenue through the Atlantic Wharf area. The two roads are separated by less than a hundred yards (in places they are immediately alongside opposite sides of the railway embankment) but are miles apart economically. Atlantic Wharf is surrounded by modern, expensive apartments. Butetown is a former Council Estate (it looks like it was built in the 1970s), with a rundown appearance and several boarded-up houses visible from the main road.

Now admittedly the affluence of Cardiff Bay in places looks wafer thin — many of the new shops behind the Bay front are unlet and Mermaid Quay already has the tawdry look of many Victorian seaside resorts. But the difference in life on either side of the railway line is remarkable an probably not what the planners hoped for. It does rather show that if you build estates for the socially deprived and have policies that continue to concentrate the most deprived in those estates then however much is spent on the surrounding areas they will, not surprisingly, remain deprived.

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