Riverside residents have expressed concern surrounding the state of former NosDa hostel
Riverside residents have expressed concern surrounding the state of former NosDa hostel

Rugby fans greeted by discarded needles and cans yards from Principality Stadium

Neighbours concerned as drug users mess up hostel site faster than council can clean it up

FANS going to the Wales v England match via the Taff Trail will be greeted by an eyesore of discarded needles and empty cans.

Residents and businesses in Riverside are concerned about drug use and littering at the site of the former NosDa hostel, a stone’s throw from the Principality Stadium.

The Despenser Street hostel and bar has been a hotspot for anti-social behaviour since it shut in March 2020. The area was cleaned up by Cardiff Council last November following a plea from neighbours, but has now returned to its old state.

Negative impact on nearby hotels

Claudio Lowe has worked for four months at WiseStay Guesthouse on Fitzhamon Embankment, just around the corner from the hostel.

“It’s not a good impression. Even from a safety perspective, it’s right by the Principality and you’ll have families walking there,” said Mr Lowe.

“We’ve had customers complain about the noise and rowdiness. While the issue doesn’t affect our business directly it affects the area which in turn affects our reputation a bit,” said the 26-year-old.

Lucia Attanasio also works at WiseStay, owned by the Aaron Wise group.

“We get good reviews, but we also get people saying it’s not safe after dark,” said Ms Attanasio.

Walking past the former hostel along the river Taff, another staff member Luke Hull pointed out discarded cans of solvent, saline solution, alcohol cans and used needles.

NosDa hostel is located a few hundred yards away from Principality Stadium

“I walk along here five or six times a day. One time I saw a man pacing back and forwards while just weeing, it’s not nice,” said Mr Hull.

Mr Lowe said more safe spaces for drug users, and support for addicts should be provided.

Need to protect the vulnerable

Salma Zaman, 35, of De Burgh Street, Riverside, echoed this view.

“More help is needed to help those suffering from addiction to quit and to overcome
personal trauma. It’s important that they are treated with respect,” he said.

“My main concern is my children’s safety,” said the father of four, who has also seen used needles strewn around Despenser Gardens.

“Despenser Gardens is usually full of children. Needles can easily be picked up which comes with a safety risk.”

Advice on what to do if you come across discarded needles
Credit: Catrin Lewis, The Cardiffian

The homeless refuge Dyfrig House is a few doors down from the hostel. Fights outside the refuge, residents shouting out of the window, and people congregating outside NosDa have sparked complaints, said Mr Hull.

‘Eyesore’ views from luxury hotel

The Aaron Wise group owns six properties in the area and Mr Hull believes its studios on 62 Plantagenet Street receive the most complaints – mostly noise related.

Some rooms, including the deluxe studio, overlook the back of NosDa hostel, which is also used by addicts.

“A room like this on a Six Nations weekend in Cardiff can cost around £600 to £700,” said Mr Hull.

“People expect a higher standard of luxury. You’ve got a nice view of the Principality it’s just a shame that it’s been ruined by NosDa.”

Mike Welsh lives on Neville Street.

“It’s sad to see, the area is full of tourists who take away a very poor impression of our capital and our beautiful country. The council need to do better,” he said.

Once a lively location

The hostel is up for auction next month with a £1 million estimate. Mr Hull says the condition of the site has improved since it went up for sale.

NosDa used to be a lively location for backpackers which regularly hosted live music and social get-togethers, something that Ms Attanasio would like to see return when the property is sold.

Riverside councillor Leonora Thomson says that she’s flagged up the issue several times and the site has been cleared a lot since November.

“Despite the council’s regular work to ensure the area by NosDa is cleared, there are unfortunately still drug paraphernalia and needles being left there,” she said.

“This is very unpleasant for residents, walkers and cyclists. We would urge people to report these issues in when they see them using the council’s app, as then we can ensure they are cleared as soon as possible.”

A council spokesperson said: “The council cleaned and secured the site late last year, but it appears that one of the gates has been broken enabling access. We are arranging for a cleansing crew to visit and to get someone to secure the gate.”

The Cardiffian has asked South Wales Police for comment on anti-social behaviour and drug use in the area.

How can I safely dispose of needles?

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board offer a range of needle exchange services where users can return used equipment so that they can be disposed of safely.

The needle exchanges also offer advice on injecting safely to minimise harm, access to welfare services and help to stop using drugs through referrals to substance support services.

  • For more information on drug support available in Cardiff, you can contact CAVDAS at info@cavdas.com or by calling 0300 300 7000
  • You can find the complete list of needle exchange services available in Cardiff including opening hours and contact details here