Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Greenfield house building and Junction 33

This is my first blog entry about things happening in Cardiff, so please forgive me if the style is a bit patchy!

Two stories have emerged this week which together make the logic of Cardiff Council and the Assembly Government look rather indecisive.

1) WAG calls in Cardiff's application for an International Business Park at Junction 33 of the M4 on Greenfield land. The Sustainability Minister, Jane Davidson says this is because the project would contradict Welsh planning policy advising against development on Greenfield Land.

The Welsh Government claims that the anticipated expansion of Cardiff cannot be accommodated by the speculative building of apartments in the south of the city.

This is intriguing because the ensuing fire fight has each body arguing the opposite position on one issue from another; Rodney says 'tell residents of Cardiff North you want to build houses on Greenfield' and the WAG 'you can't build an international business park on Greenfield land because it contradicts national policy'.

An interesting viewpoint on the part of the Assembly, they clearly seem prepared to rip up their own planning policy if it makes Cardiff bigger but aren't prepared to do the same to supposedly bring high paid jobs to the capital as part of what the Council considers a key part of its future development. The Council want the jobs but must assume the new jobs will be taken by perpetually young professionals living in soulless developments in Cardiff Bay, or that we can build suitable housing on existing brownfield land.

Now I'm not in favour of the Juction 33 development, I just find it odd that the two institutions are taking the opposite position on 2 different issues. If it were built, most of these so called 'high powered' jobs would likely be filled by moving existing staff, with little benefit to local people. I'm also far from convinced that the plans for a 'public transport hub' would be any more than diverting an existing bus route, making the site totally car dependent, causing traffic chaos and undermining National and Local policy to make new developments accessible in a post-carbon economy.

What is clear is that Cardiff, like other cities needs to refocus its housing provision towards more sustainable residents (families). I'm not saying people shouldn't live in apartments but it is clear we've seen huge over-provision with developments in Butetown. Can we fill this need within Brown field land? I'm not sure yet, but if that's what we need to do then we must accept that our communities will be more densely populated. Again, there is nothing necessarily wrong with that as it makes public transport and other amenities more economically viable, but we must make sure our communities are planned to have decent infrastructure and are pleasant places for children to be brought up in.


  1. The public transport hub option that you mentioned , would not be totally car dependent, providing the plan to reopen an old railway line (in the councils Local Transport Plan) near to here with new stations at the new International Business Park at J33 and Pentrebane, linking up with the City Line north of Fairwater station to link up to the city centre.

    This would provide a very good out of town parking facility keeping traffic away from the city centre making it a better place for both shoppers and motorists alike.

  2. Cardiff does not have a good history of innovation on public transport and I'm reliably informed the Leader of the council is imposing a spending embargo.
    How is it going to pay to open this railway line? I fully support sorting out the City/Radyr line and making it into a circle, but the *old* Local Transport Plan I'm sorry to say amounts to wish list I don't think they expect to get. The Assembly certainly won't pay for it if they oppose the development, and the LTP has now been put aside in favour of a far less ambitious Regional Transport Plan. Look up SEWTA for more details.
    If Cardiff proposed am ambitious light rail system that utilised the Radyr/City lines and which did not involve tearing up a beautiful bit of countryside for a completely shortsighted project I would be the first to campaign for it.

    Out of town parking facilities are not a sustainable option either, as you should know Smithy.

  3. Out of town parking facilities ARE sustainable, there are large numbers of people who commute to Cardiff every day from Llantrisant, Beddau, Creigiau and Pentyrch. There is already a massive unofficial car-share scheme at J34, so people are clearly interested in different ways of commuting to Cardiff.

    Providing transport links at the business park gives people more opportunity to use public transport that suits them. Once you have them on the bus or train, then you can use the quality of service to encourage them to leave the car at home altogether.