CONSTRUCTION teams have moved onto the site of the new International Convention Centre Wales, at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, and work has begun on preparing the site for the development.

The teams are currently excavating the site to ready it for building work to start in a few months.

An official ground-breaking ceremony for the £84m development will take place in June.

Funding details were agreed between the Welsh Government, Celtic Manor Resort and NatWest for the development earlier this year.

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 number one 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 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."