The Island Site forms part of a man-made waterfront, The Slate Quay, on the bank of the River Seiont and its location is most distinctive for its proximity to Caernarfon Castle. As the name indicates, the waterfront has strong ties with the history of the North Wales slate industry and is directly adjacent to the terminus of the Welsh Highland Railway which brought slate from the quarries to the waterfront for shipping.
Its prominent position makes the Island Site a key part of the town’s heritage – within the buffer area of the World Heritage Site, dominating views from one aspect of the Castle and significantly contributing to the setting of the Castle and Waterfront.
Following the decline of industrial activity throughout the 20th century, the buildings and associated yards on the Island Site had gradually fallen out of use and consequently became unusable for any long-term and sustainable purpose. The site has been in significant decline for the past two decades and several significant proposals to redevelop and regenerate the Waterfront have proved unviable. This project represents a new commercially focused approach. The Island Site will form part of a wider joined up strategy for the Waterfront, Caernarfon’s Culture and a heritage led regeneration and tourist destination programme aiming to safe guard the heritage of the whole area.
The project includes returning its buildings to productive and sustainable use, the conservation of historic fabric, the careful insertion of a series of new buildings, and a programme of interpretation telling the stories of the site to more than 300,000 visitors a year. It seeks to engage many people in apprenticeship, training, learning and volunteering activities as well as providing new jobs, building on Caernarfon’s USP’s and associated opportunities.
From a development point of view, the Island Site is a complex project inserting 10 new buildings between an existing development of 11 historic buildings, mostly are domestic in scale, however each is different and the connections and links between them are all bespoke and complex. This coupled with the sensitive nature of the site located in the shadow of Caernarfon Castle and the World Heritage Site has required delicate detailing and management on a tightly constrained site.
Currently in the final stages of construction, this development will complement and enhance the setting of the Castle and World Heritage Site, delivering an artisan quarter for the town, celebrating the sites historic purpose as a place of manufacture.